The Non-Golden Rules for Leadership in Zero

When you look at the so called ’Golden Rules’ for Zero it doesn’t take long to audit the language and see that they are NOT Golden ie. there is no mutuality or relational reciprocation.

The Golden Rule ( has always been understood as a mutual orientation towards others. It’s about listening, care, helping, understanding, engagement, dialogue and a moral disposition towards persons. This has significant implications for the style of leadership that ought to be enacted with regard to risk. However, this is not how Zero/Safety understands it. There is no place for the following-leading dialectic in zero (

So, let’s have a look at rule 1 and its checklist:

The first thing you notice is just how much of this checklist is focused on the ego of the leader and the power of self. As a starter, leaders according to the Act and Regulation are NOT responsible for risk and safety. The Act and regulation make it very clear that the responsibility for risk and safety is MUTUAL!

But look at all these ‘I’ and ‘my’ statements, 13 in all. Guess what? Such a focus motivates non-one and it never motivates ownership for risk.

Then look who says ‘stop’, not the workers who actually do the task, who face the risks but the hierarchical leader – I. and, even when being a ‘role model’ is mentioned guess what, it’s about PPE! And, following rules! It’s all about power and intervention of an individual and nothing is mutual. Indeed, the language of mutuality or reciprocation appears no-where in this non-golden rule.

And what is the most recurring word in this checklist as a golden rule? You guessed it. Rules!

What is zero vision safety about? Policing rules with a target of zero.

The real meaning of the ‘golden rule’ is essentially about a mutual and reciprocal social contract ( ) that exists in the culture of the organisation. A social contract doesn’t have written nor formal rules, people know what to do through relational understanding. This is the true meaning of the phrase ‘golden rule’. The best symbol the exemplifies the social contract is the shaking of hands.

Just do a search for ‘golden rule’ or ‘social contract’ and see what images pop up. This popped up first on my search:

There is nothing relational or mutual in any of these so called ‘golden rules’ of zero. There is no language of mutuality, listening, dialogue, reciprocation or relationship in this checklist. Everything is power-centric and that is what Zero loves – intolerance, brutalism, bullying, authoritarianism, power, dominance and telling. Goodness me, it’s all about telling.

When the AIHS BoK Chapter on Ethics makes no mention of the word ‘power’ or ‘persons’, you know it has no idea of the golden rule. But as usual, Safety is best at naming things by what they are not.

However, there is an alternative.

This is not how we lead in SPoR. In SPoR we don’t rule OVER others we lead WITH others and they lead WITH us. Following can never be separated from leading and, leading can never be separated from following.

This is why we published the book Following- Leading in Risk, A Humanising Dynamic ( And it is for free download.

If leading doesn’t work mutually with following, then leading can’t work and, it certainly has no idea of the ‘golden rule’. If leading is not ethical, it doesn’t work. If leadership doesn’t start with: the use of power and moral responsibility, it cannot work! There is none of this in any of these so called ‘golden rules’.

This is what Zero loves and, there’s nothing that harms people better than The Love of Zero (

In SPoR, the real golden rule is practiced. People are the focus, social relationships are critical, reciprocation is essential, ownership for risk is mutual and this is the key to motivation. This is the real ‘golden rule’ for tackling risk. And in SPoR everything you get including many effective methods, are practical, positive, constructive and meaningful.

So, ditch this silly checklist because it won’t help you in leadership in risk and it cannot help you with leading at all. Indeed, it doesn’t even help you understand what a golden rule is!

If you want to lead in risk so it works you can download It Works, A New Approach to Risk and Safety (


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