Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Be an Effective Safety Leader

A leader is not just something you “are” or “do,” but it’s something you have to “be.” This is the mantra of Founder and CEO of ProAct Safety Terry Mathis at this year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. Unfortunately, he adds, there are flaws that cripple effectiveness of being a leader.
  • Setting a bad example
  • Creating resistance
  • Avoiding failure
  • Managing results instead of performance
  • Thinking it is about “me”
  • Failing to coach
According to Mathis, the leader of an organization or business must first become a leader and set the example for employees in order to be effective. Once the leader sets a good example, s/he must involve employees in any organizational change, Mathis adds. In doing this, remember to treat people with respect and show them quick results. This eliminates any "resistance to change" as it now becomes the employee's change. In addition, Mathis points out that there are many other ways to combat flaws.
  • Put hearts before minds. Get people emotionally involved and inspired, then their minds will follow. 
  • Don’t treat employees like children; instead, show them respect. 
  • Manage performance before results. Leaders should ask, “What’s the strategy to improve safety?” 
  • Avoid failures by reviewing incident rates, setting the goal for new incident rates, developing lists of initiatives and executing those initiatives. 
  • Don't confront employees. This is nonproductive on the job. Finding out “why” is incredibly productive. 
  • Acknowledge and appreciate an employee’s hard work. Be thankful. 
  • Know and believe in this truism: “You don’t succeed by being a great leader; you succeed by leading great people.” 
In addition, Mathis says that the three-part model to coaching – focus, feedback, facilitate – can drive a company to success. Gain focus by forming one common understanding of safety; get everyone on the same page. Then give feedback in the form of positive reinforcement, "a powerful and largely unused tool in safety." Finally, make it easy to facilitate the goal (focus) by using effective and manageable tools. Once one goal is accomplished, set another goal to focus on and go through the three-part model again, he adds. “What’s important is that we all get the same vision in our heads,” Mathis says. After all, “leadership is not about being perfect, leadership is about consistently getting better.”