Safety is fast-becoming the new leadership.
Leadership has nothing to do with management. Safety leadership, therefore, has nothing to do with safety management. You don’t have to be in management to be a leader.
Leadership is not a position. It is an attitude - management is the position. One has nothing to do with the other. Safety too is an attitude. It is a state of mind and a way of living your life. Safety is the result. Safely is the choice in every moment of every day. Those with a safety leadership attitude, will choose to do the job safely in every moment.
Companies are waking up to the fact that people who blindly follow orders on a job site still get hurt. Helping people to connect with their own leadership abilities can help people to think more clearly on the job. It is for this reason that in the workplace, safety is fast-becoming the new leadership.
Look at any list of leadership traits and you will see a direct relationship to the list of traits of outstanding safety performers. Here are the list of 7 character traits that solid safety performers will possess:
1Honesty - which comes wrapped in accountability and responsibility. Any attempt to deflect accountability negates honesty. Honesty is the trait that allows leaders to be vulnerable and accept that they don’t know everything. You can fix what you don’t know but you can’t fix what you cover up. Honesty is a willingness to be who you are and make no excuses for it. Values and core beliefs are tied to honesty. One of those core beliefs will be safety and self-preservation.
2Communication - the key to keeping yourself and others safe on a job site. If no one is talking, then no one is listening. When no one is listening, instructions get missed and people get hurt. Communication doesn’t happen by scolding or by lectures. People don’t respond well to scolding and being lectured. Communication involves conversation. People engage themselves in conversation. When they are engaged, they are paying attention.
3Confidence - anyone who works without confidence lacks the prime ingredient to make good decisions. Some work is simply intimidating and when a worker lacks confidence in performing the job. Others are put at risk. When a worker is constantly scolded, he or she will lose their confidence. Lack of confidence is a distraction. Setbacks happen on every job site. When a setback occurs, people turn to those who display confidence and an “I’ve got this” attitude.
4Commitment - perhaps the most contagious of all traits. Working alongside those without commitment to the job reflects in the crew-culture. Knowing that a co-worker could quit at any moment leaves workers unsure and confidence on the job site wanes. However, when you are surrounded by those who have deep-seated commitment for the job brings a sense of peace and suredness about doing the job safely. Commitment means focus and when workers are focused, they will act safely.
5Positive Attitude - regardless of whatever adversity you may face, your attitude is key. Positive attitude is what turns someone’s debilitating roadblock into a temporary setback that is easily overcome. People focused on the worst attract the worst. People who can find the silver lining will emerge as victors. They see what needs doing and take action instead of wallowing in fear. A positive, supportive work site tends to attract those who will contribute to it.
6Intuition - when you are plugged into your surroundings, you can see what is coming and prepare for it. There is a quiet confidence in simply “knowing” what is about to happen. You can prepare yourself and those around you. You can address issues before they become issues. The tough decisions are easy to decide when you can depend on your gut instinct for answers. Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you.
7Sense of Humor - there is no reason that safety can’t be fun. The benefits of being safe are happy and joyful. So why can’t we laugh on the job site? There is little reason to laugh when you don’t feel confident, lack commitment or constantly face safety issues. But when you and your work mates have a sense of self, have confidence, great communication and a great attitude, there’s no reason that you can’t have fun at work. Humor allows people to comfortably settle into their work.
Safety is the new leadership. Look for these traits in yourself and your team mates. And if you want to talk about leadership and safety at your next safety meeting, I’d be pleased to help.
Kevin Burns has authored ten books on human performance and safety, including his most recent release, PeopleWork - The Human Touch in Workplace Safety. Buy it now on Amazon. Then, consider bringing Kevin's consulting expertise to your company or have him speak at a safety event.
©2017 ZeroSpeak Corporation and Kevin Burns.
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