Leadership Vision to Create Safety Buy-in

Provide a clear and concise vision of where your crew is headed.

What's your vision for safety? And don't say "no one gets hurt." That's not a vision -  it is a hope strategy - fingers crossed that no one actually does get hurt.

Face it, if you're a supervisor, foreman, manager or executive, you're in a leadership role. You're in charge. That means the responsibility for the performance and safety of the team is yours.

As a leader, there is one thing you need to get right, and it will solve problems in so many other areas: you need to provide your people with a clear vision and direction. You need to tell them where you're headed. Every member of your team wants to know where the team is going.

You need to provide a clear and concise vision of where your crew is headed. And then, you need to repeat it multiple times per day. Repeat the vision, over and over. And don’t ever miss a day. Because in addition to hearing the vision of where we’re going, your people also want to know that they’re moving toward something.

Your vision needs to be simple and memorable. Nothing fancy. No jargon or unquantifiable claims. No nebulous words that fill space but lack clarity. Just simple, direct and powerful. Something they can get behind.

Vision statements you should consider.

Here are a couple of suggestions of statements your own crews could own:

“To be the elite team of (industry) professionals that others call when they want it done right.”

“To be a high-performance (industry) crew that others want to be part of.”

Here are the vision statements of several big companies that are simple, and cause their people to focus on what’s most important simply by repeating the vision out loud:

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.” – Southwest Air

"Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” – Patagonia

“Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. – Nike (*If you have a body, you’re an athlete).

A clear, concise vision is what your people can use to measure their in-the-moment decisions and actions against. Your people can ask themselves, "Is what I am about to do moving me closer to or further away from my vision?” Then they can make a decision about whether it’s worth it.

Create your own vision statement. Keep your eyes on the future and use every present moment and safety decision to get you there. Use your imagination and think bigger than where you are right now.

Every crew wants simplicity, clarity and a reason to look forward.

Every crew should have their own vision statement. And every leader and supervisor should have a personal one: a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And, when you’ve defined your vision, you should be starting off your safety meetings by reciting it out loud every day. Get your people used to hearing it.

Repeat where you’re headed then use safety to get you there. Then, come up with an internal safety marketing campaign that repeats and reinforces the vision. Tie it to safety in a clear way.

Employees love going to work when the reason for the work is clear. However, employees lose motivation when the purpose for the work is unclear; when there is no vision, and the job seems like nothing but putting out fires. That work is exhausting. And there is no reward in it because they know tomorrow, they're going to have to do it all over again.

PeopleWork buy now on Amazon Provide easy instructions and direction on the reason your people show up to work each day and you help build morale and willingness to work as a team. Your people want to know where they are headed and the you measure everything you do against that vision.

What’s your vision for your team in safety? And how often are you communicating it to your people? Your people want to know where they’re headed.


Kevin Burns is a management consultant, internal safety communications strategist and author. His most recent book, PeopleWork: The Human Touch in Workplace Safety, is changing how companies do safety.

Energize your safety culture. Get employee buy-in. Build teamwork. Get more information <http://www.kevburns.com/contact>

Topics: safety leadership, kevin burns, safety buy-in