21 Apr What every good leader ought to know
People often ask where does leadership fit with safety? To me, that question sounds a bit like where does breathing fit with living? They’re inseparable. One and the same. Fundamental.
Good safety in any organisation means people behaving safely. And safe behaviour comes from appropriate attitudes, values and beliefs. Shared collectively within an organisation that’s culture.
We typically adopt shared values and beliefs from people around us. Most notably from those with the most influence – strong leaders. In the workplace these leaders might be managers and supervisors but also (and very importantly) safety reps, trade union spokesmen and our peers.
But others may look to us for leadership without us being aware. We follow examples set by those whom we look up to.
The effective leader
A useful model for leadership is John Adair’s concept that the effective leader satisfies the needs of the individual, the team and the task in a balanced manner. Indeed if we fail to meet any one of these separate needs it will have a detrimental effect on the others.
All people in a position of leadership, particularly those in the boardroom, have a duty to ensure the safety of those they wish to lead. Of course this has long been enshrined in law to the cost of many who have failed in this duty (both in financial terms and in their freedom).
At a more basic level there’s a moral duty too. It just isn’t right to hurt someone who’s working for you. And if you’re someone who finds that a bit wishy-washy and you’re still convinced that the law won’t catch up with you, think about the effect on the job if your people are worried about whether or not they’ll get home in one piece.
An effective leader whether a senior manager, safety rep or one of the lads, never ignores the health, safety and welfare implications of a job. For the sake of the individual who gets hurt, the team affected in the aftermath or the task that’s inevitably interrupted.