It is easy to understand what is required to be a brilliant safety leader – and it costs almost nothing to be a great safety leader. The challenge comes in having memory and discipline to do the many simple everyday actions.
In safety leadership workshops I ask people what they think makes a brilliant leader. This list comes up every time. Take your time to think about what each trait means for safety.
18 traits that make a brilliant leader:
- Genuine praise/credit: thank whenever possible and in public
- Keeps promises
- Politeness (thanks, no sarcasm or insults, courtesy)
- Fairness/firmness and respectfulness/assertiveness
- Setting the direction/goals/procedures/policies
- Setting an example – all the time
- Openness (honesty) but with confidences maintained
- Genuine interest in their jobs without interfering
- Genuine and appropriate interest in their non-work activities
- Listens /consults when matters affect others
- Informing on the progress of projects
- Helpfulness instead of blaming
- Caring when people have personal difficulties (compassion)
- Loyalty: protecting them from unwarranted criticism from senior management: telling senior management about their excellent work
- Competence: your mistakes should not make other people’s working lives difficult
- Decisiveness – confidence but not arrogant
- Admits his/her mistakes (humility)
- Charismatic – generate admiration, excitement, energy
The challenge for leaders is in translating these qualities/traits into consistent practical actions (behaviour) for safety.
Translating leadership traits into safety leadership actions.
With these examples, you can work out for yourself some of the others.
- Walking the job regularly (taking a genuine interest in people’s job) give you a chance to get first-hand knowledge of safety issues
- Following all your procedures, all the time, sets the right tone/example
- When you take the time to listen to people’s safety concerns, that helps you understand but shows that safety is important
- Owning up to your mistakes and apologising makes it okay for others to own up – so the same accident can be prevented
- Caring when someone has a difficult personal/family issue, shows;
- a) You care for the human being
- b) You recognise the safety implications
- Disciplining fairly, instead of just blaming gives people trust that if they make a mistake they will be treated fairly, thus encouraging them to own up when things go wrong
In Safety Briefing No. 13 we will go in the best safety behaviours for leaders. In the meantime, this manual will give you all you need to know about being a great safety leader – Get more details here.
As always, your feedback is very welcome. If there are any topics you’d like covered in future Safety Briefings, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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