From COP to COACH

August 15 2022
By: Shawn M. Galloway

Do you treat something differently if you own it? At a 2005 safety conference, Terry Mathis asked the audience, "How many of you have washed a rental car?" No responses. He followed with, "Why not?" The apparent reactions were, "It's not mine." What if you are punished for not doing so? Would you take it to be detailed, or do the minimum amount necessary? What do you want, a culture of have-to or culture of want-to? How you leaders lead matters.From COP to COACH

To achieve excellence in an operational area, leaders must move from being a COP to a COACH, from punishing to collaborative problem-solving. Suppose the workforce perceives leaders are behaving intentionally to Catch Opportunities to Punish (COP). In that case, we encourage leaders to look for ways to Create Ownership and Change Happens (COACH)SM.

Coaching is a leadership style focused on helping people perform to the best of their ability, every time, everywhere. For this outcome to be a reality, regular, consistent and sustained engagement is needed. Engagement is buy-in, participation and ownership. And the principles of ownership are possession, stewardship and control. Consider your safety performance, safety management systems, safety programs, policies, procedures and safety culture. How much ownership exists within the many levels in your company? What can others possess, steward and control? While punishment is a tool, one of last resort, I've never seen a company punished into excellence. Excellence comes from creating ownership and, with this, change happens.

"When everyone owns a piece of safety, change happens." — Terry L. Mathis

"When a team takes ownership of its problems, the problem gets solved. It is true on the battlefield, it is true in business, and it is true in life." — Jocko Willink

"People support what they help to create." — W. Edwards Deming






Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.