Putting the “Leadership” Back into Your Safety-Leadership Walkthroughs

leadership-walkthroughIn our last issue we alluded to the fact that there are fundamental differences between conducting a site or floor visit in the capacity of a manager v. doing the same thing in the capacity of a leader.  One crucial difference is the tone it sets, and how that tone impacts the quality of information you may get during your walkthroughs. [content_protector password=”leader-02″ identifier=”leader-02″]

Managers tend to focus so much on processes and procedures that sometimes it’s to the exclusion of the people who perform those processes.  That in itself can set a detached enough tone and atmosphere to work against your goal of getting the information you need.  And the harder you push for it with the manager approach, the more likely you are to alienate your workers, and the less valuable information you’ll get from that visit.  This ultimately leads to your visits being viewed in a negative way, and you being viewed as the person they’d just rather avoid.

That’s why leaders focus instead on people.  By approaching your workers as a trusted leader—one who shows genuine care and concern about them and their families, and who actively builds relationships with them—talking with them and initiating conversations with them about their well being—you begin to earn the kind of trust that creates a safe environment and makes it easy for them to reveal things to you they might not otherwise reveal.

Approaching it as a leader gives you the best of both worlds. It not only builds trust for leading a safety culture, but it allows you to engage in the type of intelligence gathering required for leading process safety.

That’s all for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS.  Until next time be sure all your safety initiatives are built in, not bolted on.



About the Author

Eric Svendsen
Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.