Many have written about the need for senior management to actively participate within company safety processes for real culture change to occur. Although they cannot work alone, Safety leaders must also work to help influence this change. As a safety professional looking to become a leader in your company, is crucial to consider a more global-class approach to safety performance. Robert Pater, M.A., the managing director of SSA/Move-SMART, wrote an article in April, 2015 issue of Professional Safety discussing how to “recast” safety leadership to change culture. Here are some of the key takeaways from this article.
Changing the Leadership Mind-Set
Dee Hock, the VISA international CEO Emeritus, states that having your heart and soul in leadership is crucial. The best and most effective safety leaders divide their time into these parts:
- Self-Management: evaluating your personality and how you can improve (40%)
- Influencing Up: managing your superiors as well as working with/for your employer and management (30%)
- Parallel Supporting: being a worker/leader among peers
- Guiding Down: working with other workers below you (15% between 3 and 4).
- Being a Resource: to your employers so they can better understand these safety principles (15%)
It is critical to use language that the person can relate to when discussing the problems or successes in the safety culture of the company. This helps build report with the workforce.
Safety leaders who wish to effectively make change realize change begins with one’s self. A great starting place is assessing your risk personality to see which areas you need to work on in order to increase your safety self-awareness. Self-change isn’t always easy, it becomes easier through self-monitoring. According to CEO of Alaska Tanker Co, Anil Mathur, it is a process of learning from the past and realizing what can be done in the future. Ask yourself some of the following questions when assessing your improvements:
- Do I hold biases in my initial reaction to a situation?
- Am I prone to missing something?
- Do I know where my limit is?
- Do I have any self-inflicted wounds (emotional or physical) and if so where?
- Is there a part of myself getting in the way of this decision?
Seek Coaching and Mentorships
Too often do we try to accomplish a task on our own when it is unnecessary; if we were to only ask for assistance our performance level would increase. It is the same principle when it comes to being an effective safety leader. Finding someone with more experience, whether in your field or otherwise, can guide you through tough decision making and learning more how your personality fits in your leadership role. Select a mentor you can foster an ongoing relationship with; someone you admire and have respect for that can give you guidance and honest feedback. One place to find someone willing to be a mentor is through your local American Society of Safety Engineers chapter.
Becoming a safety leader for your company can be both a great asset to your company as well as a great way to move up. To learn more about your personality, download our free whitepaper on understanding the link between personality and safety.