Safety Leadership Coaching
When leaders don’t lead, followers don’t follow – how could they, they actually don’t know where they are?
- I was giving a keynote presentation at the Global HSE Conference in Delhi in 2013. At the Plenary Session there were half a dozen of India’s top “leaders”. They had that recognition as they were the “bosses” of the regions leading petrochemical companies. They each gave a fifteen minute presentation on the importance of leadership to how they run their operations. As a teacher and coach of Safety Leadership I was quite impressed with the words I heard – they were all saying the right things. Anyway, the session ended and they were guided off the podium. Morning tea immediately followed their session. Guess how many of this key group remained? Only one! The other five all did a “runner”. In other words, they were no-where to be seen. For the rest of that day all you could hear people talking about were words to the effect of, “that session was all fluff, safety was not even important enough for them to stay for a cup of tea, let alone listen to any of the speakers”. Words are one thing (and a very important one thing they are), yet deeds are even more powerful and resonating.
- Only in the last couple of weeks I was asked to give a brief presentation to a safety working group on the impacts of fatigue on decision making within a large mining operation. Anyway we had a dozen or so bods around the table, and the session went very well. Quite interactive, a few laughs, so I was comfortable with what we had initially achieved. Following my bit, there was another session on updated methods of detecting drug use within operations (an increasing problem). As it happens one of the two senior leaders in that room just packed up their papers, stood up, and left the room. What do you think the impact of that decision might have been? Let me tell you that a number of people have since told me that they do not believe the senior leadership are committed to the program – lip service (words) only. What are they basing that decision on. The observation that one of their senior leaders had better things to do, than participate in the safety working group process (and the business says “safety is our No 1 priority”). It would have actually been better if that particular senior leader had not turned up at all. Being “invisible” is arguably a bit better than actually being seen to be “dismissive”.
In both of these examples (and I could offer many more) not only have opportunities been lost, damage has been done. Yes, the safety culture within any business is significantly influenced by the decisions AND the behaviours of the leaders within the business – at all levels. Poor psycho-behavioral decision-making at a supervisory level shall negatively influence their followers, just as the oil company leaders above influence their own followers.
Understanding Safety Leadership Coaching
Coaching is not new to us. If we want to get really good at something we often will employ a coaching model. If you want your children to get better at mathematics then you may opt to get them a math coach. If you want them to get better at tennis – then you send them to tennis coaching. Even the most elite sports people in the world all have a coach – many have more than one. Click Here to take a look at the coaching philosophy of a four (4) time Olympian – Bo Hansen. It always amazes that we have no hesitation understanding the value of coaching when it comes to our children and within sports – yet it so often appears to be more difficult for the penny to drop – with respect to workplace health and safety?
So, what is safety leadership coaching? Safety leadership coaching is a specialized form of leadership development that focuses on enhancing the skills, behaviors, and attitudes of leaders to prioritize safety in their decision-making and interactions. Unlike more traditional leadership coaching, safety leadership coaching hones in on the unique challenges and responsibilities that leaders face in ensuring the well-being of their teams and maintaining a safe and secure work environment.
The coaching process typically involves a certified coach (SAFE-T-COACH) working one-on-one with leaders to identify their strengths, areas for improvement, and specific safety-related goals. Through a combination of reflective conversations, skill-building exercises, and real-world scenario discussions, leaders are empowered to develop a deep understanding of safety protocols, risk assessment, and effective communication techniques.
Safety Leadership Coaching Deliverables
- Cultural Transformation: Safety leadership coaching acts as a catalyst for cultural transformation within organizations. When leaders prioritize safety and exhibit behaviors that align with this priority, it sends a powerful message to employees throughout the organization. Over time, these behaviors become ingrained in the culture, resulting in heightened awareness and a collective commitment to safety.
- Improved Decision-Making: Leaders who undergo safety leadership coaching develop a heightened ability to make informed decisions that consider potential safety implications. They become adept at recognizing risks, evaluating options, and selecting courses of action that prioritize safety without compromising productivity or efficiency.
- Enhanced Communication: Effective safety leadership is contingent upon open and transparent communication. Coaching equips leaders with the skills to communicate safety expectations, concerns, and protocols clearly and empathetically. This leads to increased employee engagement, as team members feel heard and valued in matters of their well-being.
- Personal Accountability: Through coaching, leaders internalize the importance of personal accountability for safety. This mindset shift leads to proactive behaviors, where leaders take the initiative to address potential hazards and provide timely interventions to prevent incidents.
- Reduction in Incidents: One of the most tangible benefits of safety leadership coaching is a reduction in workplace incidents. When leaders are well-versed in safety best practices and actively promote a culture of vigilance, employees are more likely to adhere to protocols, leading to fewer accidents and injuries.
- Positive Reputation: Organizations that prioritize safety enjoy a positive reputation not only among their employees but also within their industry and community. Safety-conscious organizations are more likely to attract top talent, retain skilled employees, and earn the trust of stakeholders.
- Cost Savings: Preventing accidents and incidents directly translates to cost savings. By reducing the frequency of workplace injuries, organizations save on medical expenses, workers’ compensation claims, and potential legal fees.
Safety Leadership Coaching (SAFE-T-COACH): Success Stories
Several organizations have experienced remarkable transformations through the integration of safety leadership (SAFE-T-COACH) within their organizational DNA:
- Manufacturing Company: A manufacturing company that was struggling with a high rate of workplace accidents enlisted safety leadership (SAFE-T-LEADER) coaching for its senior management team. This was aligned with the SAFE-T-COACH program for two (2) leavels below. This aligned best-practice coaching process led to a renewed commitment to safety, visible through increased positive safety interactions, improved communication of safety messaging, and a seventy percent (70%) reduction in safety incidents within the first year.
- Construction Firm: A construction firm grappling with inconsistent safety practices across its projects turned to Transformational Safety for assessement/advice. A key conclusion was that that site real estate had multiple contractors “getting in each others way”. The SAFE-T-COACH Program targeted project managers and site supervisors. This resulted in greater standardized safety understandings across different contractors, visibly improved communications in project time-line meetings, a greatre recognisitio that the project was a collective goal, and a significant decline in near-misses and incidents.
In a world where safety concerns are growing more complex and demanding, safety leadership coaching has emerged as a vital instrument for organizations to cultivate a culture of security and excellence. By investing in the development of their leaders through coaching, organizations reap the rewards of reduced incidents, enhanced reputation, improved decision-making, and ultimately, a workforce that feels valued and secure. As the benefits of safety leadership coaching continue to unfold, its value in ensuring the well-being of employees and the success of organizations becomes unequivocal.
The Safety Leadership Coaching Service offered by Transformational Safety is amongst the most powerful developmental services available. Based upon the internationally recognized Transformational Safety Leadership (TSL) framework it equips graduates with the ability to recognize, formulate, and implement safety coaching approaches aligned to the specific needs of their followers. It has been shown that efficient application of safety coaching within a workforce can lead to up to a 55% reduction in workplace accidents in the first year. It is the addition of the “transformational” competencies to the coaching model that optimizes the sustainability of any gains made.
Click here to read more about Transformational Safety’s Master Coach – David G Broadbent.
Transformational Safety supports SAFE-T-COACH’s throughout the world. We do this by leveraging the power of face-to-face video technologies.
Here is what one SAFE-T-COACH graduate said after participating in the Safety Leadership coaching program over twelve months.
Thankyou Eric for the kind words.
…..This has been the best year of my working life. I have always wondered why it is so hard to get people to do what they need to do to keep themselves and the rest of us safe. At times I have just felt like giving up. Learning how to be a Transformational SAFE-T-COACH has been a highlight of my career. Being able to talk through how to make it all happen with David, after the initial training was priceless. Using face to face video meant we could schedule our coaching sessions when it was convenient. He understood and offered very real ideas. I have found that I even am dealing with my kids better. SAFE-T-COACH has been a win-win for everyone…..”