Rules are so easy to make that safety offices are often accused of being a “Rule Mill” because they continuously produce their rule-of-the month. Why do we create so many rules? One particular cog in our mill that causes us to create rules is incidents. When we suffer an incident, we want to throw every tool in the arsenal to keep it from happening again.
Twenty-five years ago, as a young safety professional, I struggled to find a set of leadership practices I could call my own. In 1996, I wrote about many of the leadership practices I was already using but found more clearly established in Servant Leadership (Sarkus, 1996).
The term “Safety culture” has become like the term “engagement” in popular management writings. There is no common agreement on the term. We are left with (mis)interpretations of terms like “safety culture,” which lead to haphazard attempts at changing organizations toward improvement.
With more experience traveling the real world seeing safety programs in action (or inaction) I realized that words matter. They not only communicate, but they can shape the very approach you take to your safety programming. They can get you stuck or they can liberate your safety culture.
The hard part is getting teams to buy into the team vision to play selfless and trust that if they focus on all the intangibles, the scoring will come and at the end of the game the scoreboard will reflect their efforts.
For the past 30 years, I’ve been driven to be the best and do the best I can – in nearly any context, personally and professionally. Along the way, I’ve discovered various dimensions of growth that have helped me succeed. I want to pass them on, and share them, so they might help you.
How do people get to a point where they fear safety? How can something like a checklist or an SOP or a safety manager create fear? Our body is equipped with automatic protective wiring that reacts to scary stimuli with a fear response.
Expectations drive both the leader and follower. Various forms of research suggest that when leaders have higher types of expectations for their followers, those followers often live up to the expectations.
We live, we love, we learn, and we leave a legacy.” This profound quotation from Stephen R. Covey has fueled my motivation to keep teaching at Virginia Tech well beyond retirement age and a comfortable pension.