Leadership in safety
Managers who demonstrate robust safety leadership are an essential ingredient in a strong, effective safety culture. Through his or her attitude, and setting an example, through the resources that are deployed, by his or her presence in the field, and through open dialogue, a safety leader knows how to inspire teams and encourage safer behavior. There is no need to be a charismatic guru; you are not born a leader, you become one.
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| Why is safety leadership important? |
According to Marcel Simard, a sociologist and professor at Montreal University, safety leadership is a key feature of safety ‘champions’. Rather than demonstrating power, or setting the perfect example, safety leadership is oriented towards learning and continuous improvement, spending time in the field, and dialogue. Why? Because a leader who embodies safety challenges:
- stimulates interest and buy-in,
- encourages shared awareness of risks,
- creates the climate of trust that is needed for employees to report incidents and, consequently, participate in improving safety, and, ultimately,
- has a positive influence on safety practices.
Safety leadership is a key component in a successful safety culture. In this ‘integrated’ culture, safety is everyone’s responsibility, it’s not just for managers. All staff, from employees, to managers and directors are involved and feel responsible for safety, whatever their level in the organization.
| Drivers to encourage safety buy-in |
Managers have three key drivers to encourage employees to adopt safer behaviors:
- Their own attitudes and behaviors: their vision, safety trade-offs, and the example they set.
- Dialogue with their teams: trust, listening, spending time in the field, etc.
- The technical or organizational resources that they provide to employees to support safe operations: appropriate equipment, how alerts are handled and problematic situations are processed, sharing information and feedback to teams, etc.