Be credible and set an example
When it comes to safety, setting an example means that you behave in the same way as you expect your team to behave. It means demonstrating your commitment not only through your words, but especially through your actions, routinely and consistently. The 7th, and final principle of safety leadership!
Why is this important?
Of course, it’s easy to come up with safety slogans, but it’s much more difficult to demonstrate your commitment through your everyday decisions and actions.
Nothing influences employees’ behavior more than the behavior of their managers and leaders, and the consistency between their words and their actions. For example, if you emphasize the importance of safety, you can’t then forget about it when welcoming a new employee, fail to mention major risks during a briefing, or regularly postpone scheduled safety visits.
Setting an example and being credible is essential to fostering your employees’ commitment to safety.
How can I be credible and set an example?
Above all, you must walk the talk – do yourself what you ask your team to do. Adopt the behaviors that you want to see adopted around you: respect the key rules, listen, dare to challenge the status quo, be open to being challenged, etc.
And the more you ask your team to do, the more they will expect of you, and the more you will have to set an example.
If ‘being credible and setting an example’ follows naturally from the application of the 6 principles seen in the previous pages, we are not asking you to be a totally infallible superman or superwoman! Only to make a sincere, authentic commitment to safety.
So, it’s up to you to identify, according to your specific context and the challenges you face, the key behaviors that you want to see your team adopt, and ensure that you set an example.
And there’s one more thing – encourage your team to give you constructive criticism. It’s a great way to be transparent and improve your managerial skills.
Finally, as in other areas of life, your safety leadership should focus on consistency and coherence, rather than the occasional flash in the pan. Credibility is built over time, by maintaining a focus on safety and working conditions, no matter how difficult the circumstances.
Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing
Albert Schweitzer, physician and philosopher
The role of the leader
- Build leadership over time
- Focus on consistency and coherence, rather than intense, isolated actions
- Ensure that what you say is always consistent with what you do
- Demonstrate, on a daily basis, the importance and the attention given to safety and working conditions through your attitude, your decisions, listening to your team, and your responses
- Use team management tools to demonstrate your commitment