I really like reading, hearing and sharing about safety leadership. I’m fully convinced (or should I say, I know?) that this is the only resource to achieve something that we might call excellent, interdependent, integrated or whatever adjective we want to use to describe a “great” safety culture.
However, sometimes I doubt that all of us, meaning all of you who actively or passively participate in these discussions are heading into the same direction or are working on the same challenges. Very often, when I read about good examples of safety leadership, I have to read about safety professionals and what good things they did. This is great, and certainly also we, the HSE/EHS/SHE/HES … managers, experts, coordinators, consultants, officers (oh no!), need to understand how we can be most effective in leading in our trade, instead of being the destructive policemen (yes, I never met a woman being out of place in her safety role).
But isn’t the real issue here, that we are on a mission to make our managers outside the safety departments and at all levels of our organizations great leaders in safety? And only if that happens, we can expect significant and sustainable development? I think we all agree that even the best acting safety department might have quite limited impact, if the rest of the organization does not show similar symptoms of next generation leadership (I like this term btw).
Also, when being unspecific about whom we are talking to, our messages lose its power. Safety pros think about their bosses, the bosses think about their safety teams when reading “safety leadership”.
So, how about being more cautious with the use of “safety leadership” and use it for the main challenge only? Maybe then more and more will understand that we are talking about “you” instead of “your safety guy”?
Suggestion: What safety professionals do when doing a great job, is just a great job, not safety leadership. What do you think?