The A-B-C’s of Leading a Safety Culture

The A-B-C's of Leading a Safety Culture: Do They Need More Health and Safety Courses? A Call to ActionOne specific application of safety-leadership styles is how we lead people who have differing levels of performance and engagement. This is known as “situational leadership,” and it is something all leaders have to do if they want to lead effective teams.  [content_protector password=”abc-lsc” identifier=”abc-lsc”]

Recall that there are six safety-leadership styles. They are: Coercive >> Authoritative >> Affiliative >> Democratic >> Pace-setting >> Coaching.

Leading Your C Players

When leading your C players or your disengaged employees, you’ll find they need more hand-holding, more maintenance, and more supervision than your other employees. It’s important to provide lots of direction, so you’ll want to use a Directing style like Coercive or Authoritative, depending on the situation. Your role in these situations is one of “Regulator”–someone who enforces compliance.

Leading Your B Players

When dealing with your B players or your unengaged employees, you’ll find they may need training on how to do the job more effectively (or health and safety courses to help them do the job more safely), more tools to do their job in better ways, and just an extra push to reach the next level of performance. In this case you’ll want to use a Motivating style like Affiliative or Democratic. Your role in these situations is one of “Enabler”–someone who focuses on building capability and providing needed resources.

Leading Your A Players

When dealing with your A players or your fully engaged employees, you’ll need to take more of a hands-off approach and hand over leadership to them. They likely already excel at the mechanics of their job (and perhaps are even helping to facilitate those same health and safety courses for everyone else). They desire opportunities to apply their considerable talents and to make a difference–so let’s give that to them. You’ll want to adopt a Deploying style like Pace-setting or Coaching in these cases. Your role is one of Liberator–someone who releases them and deploys them to help you lead a safety culture in your area.

Changing It Up

This, of course, is just one of dozens or even hundreds of different scenarios that require you to adjust your leadership style to lead your team effectively. Obviously we can’t anticipate every situation. But with these basic guidelines you should be able to select which leadership styles will be most appropriate to each situation you encounter as a safety leader. The goal, as always, is to continue building a stronger safety culture–and deploying your employees in that goal–and transferring ownership to them is the best way of accomplishing that.

Be sure to view the video below for more information about all this. That’s all for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS. Until next time.



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.