Safety Leader or Safety Follower?

August 23 2015
By: Terry L. Mathis

One of my regular interview questions during safety culture assessments is, "Who is in charge of safety around here?" The ideal answer in my mind is that everyone responds, "I am!" Organizational leaders must understand safety performance is less about what they do and more about what everyone else does. You cannot be safe for your workers and you cannot stand over them and direct everything they do. Also, what you direct or encourage them to do may not happen exactly as you wish.

When you work to enlighten and empower workers and make them their own safety leaders rather than asking them to simply do as they are told, you begin to create a workforce capable of safety excellence. Creating such a safety culture is more work in the beginning than simply commanding and controlling, but it is less work and more excellent in the long run. Leaders who seek not only to be great leaders, but also to lead great people, are ultimately the most successful.

Terry L. Mathis

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.

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