All great safety programs are headed by great leaders. Mastering leadership skills is equally as important as mastering safety skills. They must work hand and glove for you to develop an outstanding safety initiative within your organization. Look through these twenty-one ideas to see how many you are using. This is a good list to begin to examine your performance. Over time, continue to add to the list. It’s a commitment with a huge benefit for you personally and for the overall safety of those under your responsibility.
(1) Be a more visible leader of safety initiatives. It’s important that employees see you as the “action” person who does not let safety issues go unanswered. Your response to issues helps build trust in the process and the overall efforts put forth by the safety department.
(2) React quickly to safety issues / concerns that are raised. You don’t want to be considered a “black hole” when it comes to safety. Employees that raise concerns want answers. Even if nothing can be done, it is critically important that you respond in a timely manner. Set deadlines for yourself to get back to individuals who provide you with a request for help.
(3) Become a “take charge” leader. Don’t wait around for others to do what you should be doing. Be aggressive in addressing issues. Be on the forefront of issues. Let people view you as someone who can lead and does lead.
(4) Complete assignments in a timely fashion. Leave no open-ended issues. Incomplete assignments is an unacceptable behavior for leaders. They finish what they start and they do things in as efficient and effective a manner that they can. Set deadlines for yourself and stay on track. If you need help, seek it. Just don’t let things fall by the wayside. That does not endear you to your management, your peers or your employees.
(5) Anticipate issues. Be proactive. Always look for a better way. Keep your eyes on the big picture. When you view safety initiatives, always look for ways to improve the process. Again, be aggressive in anticipating events before they surface. Keeping this prospective will minimize that likelihood of a catastrophic event occurring without warning.
(6) Don’t fall behind. Stay on task. Offer no excuses. Get things done quickly and right. Purchase some type of time management system such as the Franklin-Covy or Daytimer systems. If you prefer using a computer or hand-held device, set up your schedule on them. The bottom line is that you need one calendar–one schedule of events. Each day, prioritize items and get started. By making a list from which to work, you always know the tasks that lie ahead. This allows better scheduling and proficiency.
(7) Hold everyone accountable to do their share of the safety process. A true leader does their tasks but also requires those who undertake assignments for them to also complete their work. Accountability is a key characteristic all great leaders practice and expect from those they lead. You cannot do everything yourself. Raise your expectations and people will respond accordingly.
(8) Be a team player. Work well with everyone regardless of how you feel personally about them. You are a professional. You must work with everyone within the employment of your company. Build the reputation of being a cooperative and cordial player. You don’t have to like someone but you have a professional obligation to work well with them. If you cannot do this, you don’t deserve to lead…..period!
(9) Keep everyone informed of your activities. As you work through projects, keep your management team informed regarding progress. This is not as critical for short-term projects but it is important for projects that extend over several weeks. Short emails, memos, phone calls…use the best communication media for the situation. Document those contact periods and methods on your daily calendar so you can chronicle your activities should anyone question your efforts or communications. Never forget the person with the best notes will generally win the disagreement.
(10) If given an assignment, do it. Don’t be told twice. When discussing an assignment from your manager, don’t leave until you are very clear on the outcome desired. But, when the discussion is done and you are clear regarding your tasks, do them. Confidence and trust in your leadership abilities diminishes greatly if you have to be repeatedly told to start a task. An agile mindset works well. Carrying out your projects after the initial discussion increases your credibility and greatly enhances the trust level your management team will have in you.
(11) Raise your enthusiasm for all you do. Enthusiasm can be initiated for anything. When you train, do so with enthusiasm. Thinking you don’t like to do a task, will make the task a drudgery. Being enthusiastic about undertaking a task will make the activity a pleasure to perform. It’s all in the mind. To be perceived as enthusiastic, you must be enthusiastic. Behaving this way makes you a more pleasant person to be around and will also build your credibility.
(12) Stay busy. Minimize socialization. When you come to work, be prepared to work. Earn your pay by your productivity. Yes, it’s important to take an occasional break. But, you are not paid to socialize. You are paid to produce. Visit but be constantly aware when visiting becomes a time wasting activity. Busy people get more done. And, people who get more done gain a higher level of respect in an organization. People with a higher level of respect usually have a greater opportunity to rise on the ladder of responsibility.
(13) Keep current on safety regulations. As a professional, you must continually build your learning curve. Network with fellow professionals, read magazines and books on safety and/or attend safety conferences. Use the internet to research a topic or issue. Keep learning and you will grow. If you are not learning, you are regressing because there is always something new on the horizon.
(14) Be punctual. If you schedule a meeting or are requested to participate in a meeting, be there on time. This simply comes down to being respectful to others.
(15) Act like you want the job. To be considered for a leadership position, you must display an ability to do the job. Acting indifferent or in an inefficient manner does not endear one to becoming a leaders. If you want to be the safety leader, let people know by your actions that you can handle the job.
(16) Manage by walking around. Be visible in the field. Schedule regular tours. Talk to people about safe behavior. Correct any unsafe activities or conditions you observe. Being visible ties the job to you. You cannot manage safety from your office.
(17) You are always on display. Never forget that everyone is looking up to you for leadership of the safety initiatives. Your behavior, demeanor, and attitude are in a constant evaluation mode. Let everyone see what they need to see in order to build confidence in your leadership ability and in the overall safety initiative undertaken by your department.
(18) Provide solutions, not problems: Great leaders do not give their management problems to solve. They take the initiative and provide solutions. This is a proactive position. Your job is not to unload “monkeys” on the back of those who manage your job activities. Take on problems and create workable solutions if you want to truly make an impression on those who are watching your performance.
(19) Be easy to work with: Become a “servant leader.” Those leaders who strive to provide top quality service to those they lead and to those they work under will separate themselves from the average crowd. Don’t make life difficult for those who need to work with you in any capacity. Be cordial, polite, and generous with your knowledge. Share what you know and become helpful as best you can. Helping others with a service mentality, in the long run, will result in greater rewards for you and recognition of your leadership abilities.
(20) Leadership references: Continue to grow your knowledge of safety leadership. Find good books that speak to leadership issues. Two of my favorite authors on leadership are John Maxwell and John Wooden. Both offer practical leadership ideas that are applicable in virtually every leadership endeavor one might undertake. Read the books with a highlighter and pen. When you read a passage that you find significant, highlight it. Write notes on pages where personal thoughts or ideas are generated as you read. Then the book becomes a living document to which you can refer over and over again. Build a library of references. Serious students of leadership and management never stop looking for the next great idea that might help build their career or add to their success components.
(21) View your work as a career building opportunity, not a job. Too many people only want to collect a good paycheck without providing the necessary effort to earn that pay. Viewing your work as a career and not a job gives one an entirely different prospective. Careers offer a future and greater security than a job. A career mentality enables you to see the bigger picture and ultimately make more significant contributions. People with jobs think about the weekend, not their future.
Make it a habit to periodically review these leadership qualities with the intent of continuously improving your performance. That’s what true leaders do. Are you ready to join this elite group?