Why Safety Leadership Rocks

As a safety leader, more doors open, more options are available and the longer you are likely to live.

why safety leadership rocks by kevin burns safety speaker

My recent Blog post, Safety Cop Or Safety Leader got a lot of traffic and created much discussion. Some safety professionals found themselves inadvertently standing on the wrong side of the conversation. But, as Dr. Phil says, you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.

To become a safety leader, you have to first understand what safety leadership is not: it is not safety management. Since there is no requirement to be in management to be a leader, then it only makes sense that you don’t have to be in safety management to be a safety leader.

Here are 12 reasons why Safety Leadership rocks:

1There is no coercion. Safety leaders don’t coerce or force people to obey commands. They try to get them to make better decisions for themselves. When you take away free choice, you create an adversarial relationship. Give people choice and be a leader and people will make the right choice.

2There is communication. People can’t choose well without information. Information comes from communication. You can’t get people on-side of safety without it. Communication is the keystone of safety leadership. Where there is dialog, hearts and minds follow.

3There is a focus on people. That is not to say that the paperwork isn’t important. It is. And it still must be done. But it is people who get injured. It is people who make decisions on safety. It is people who get your safety results. Processes and procedures don’t work without people. Safety leadership is people-work over paperwork.

4There is appreciation, contribution and value. The long-term threat of possibly being injured is not safety leadership. It is short-term compliance. Safety leadership is about appreciating your people, recognizing their contribution and valuing who they are and what they do. When people feel valued, they will go to great lengths to protect themselves.

5There is coaching, mentoring and teamwork. There is no scolding or lecturing in safety leadership. Coaching works on improving skills instead of chastising performance. Mentoring shows people how to follow your lead instead of being told what to do and how to do it. Teamwork helps people care about each other and watch each others’ backs.

6There is teaching and inspiration. The best way to become exceptional at something is to teach someone else. Those who can teach and inspire others, unlock their own convictions for what they do. If you want to become a safety leader, help teach others how safety makes them better contributors.

7There is honesty, caring and genuineness. People who only want the best for others are people who care about others. It is difficult to be fully vested in safety without a genuine caring for others. People who care about other people are honest and genuine. In order to lead others, you must care about others. Safety leadership depends heavily on caring and honesty.

8There is trust and respect. It is hard to trust someone that you do not respect. Safety leaders don’t care as much about being liked as they do care about being respected. Being liked is short-term. Being respected is a long-term strategy. When people know that you trust and respect them, they will trust and respect you. Safety leaders make sure others feel trusted and respected in order to get it back.

9There is equality. Safety is the great equalizer - everyone is equal. Positions are removed. In the eyes of safety, no one life is more important than another. Injury doesn’t choose its victims based on position. Therefore, safety is not just the domain of those with safety letters behind their name. Everyone is equal in safety. Safety leaders ensure everyone understands that we are all equal and equally responsible for our own safety.

10There are no spectators. You can’t sit around and wait for someone else to look after your safety if you want to be called a safety leader. Safety leaders fully participate: in their choices, in speaking up, in taking active roles in safety meetings and in taking safety home.

11There is recognition. Safety leaders don’t do it for the applause. They do it to give others applause. When you recognize others for their own personal leadership in safety, they step up and raise their own bars. They set new standards for themselves and live up to it always.

12There is security. When you become a safety leader and your standards get raised, you assure yourself that you will be around a long, long time. There will always be employment for good leaders. Safety leaders will always have options. That means security for their families and themselves.

The better you become as a safety leader, the better the quality of life: more doors open, more options are available and the longer you are likely to live.

If you are considering shifting your safety culture, why not start with a great session on safety leadership attitude. Call me and let's get started.

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Topics: safety attitude, safety leadership, safety, safety management, safety buy-in