May 27 2018
By: Terry L. Mathis
How should safety be led? With an iron hand or with a gentle touch? Probably neither! Safety is less about leading and more about facilitating. The root of the work "facilitate," in Latin, means "easy." Those in charge of safety sometimes make it incredibly difficult to be safe. This isn't always intentional, but the result of their approach can be the same as if it were. Those who help create safety excellence should continually ask themselves if they are making it easier or more difficult to be safe.
This is another way to determine if a leader is adding value or simply trying to control outcomes. The control of results is a primary goal of safety, but not a strategy. Outcomes are the byproduct of processes and real control must be centered on the process that produces the outcomes. The most effective leaders recognize that safety is not so much about what they do as about what their workers do. Workers tend toward what is doable and shun what is difficult. Are you leading safety by facilitating?
Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.