Research and experience over the last few decades has led to the incontrovertible discovery of the critical role leadership plays in safety performance improvement. Today, there is a strong body of knowledge of leadership practices and behaviors that are important to safety. The mechanisms that connect leader behavior to performance are well understood. Despite this progress, we still find one aspect of safety leadership that remains elusive: it's that gut-level sense that somebody really ‘Gets’ why safety matters on a human level and how to use those values to make a safer workplace.
We have been fortunate to personally work with leaders really, truly ‘Get Safety.’ People like Sean O'Keefe at NASA and Paul O'Neill at Alcoa, who not only have the personal drive to protect human life, but who also understand which levers to pull and why. Compared to Safety Professionals whose professional identities center on their roles as safety leaders, far fewer senior leaders in organizations have personally invested themselves in safety to the extent they need. We've found that unless a person has learned from direct personal experience with life-threatening, life-altering, or life-ending events, they are unlikely to take on safety as their personal calling. Even among executives who have a strong motivation to lead safety for their organizations, many do not understand what they need to do in order to achieve their goals: They need a different understanding of safety than most business leaders have today.
The 7 Insights into Safety Leadership describe what leaders in your organization need to understand about safety in order to be effective. The seven insights presented in this session are based on decades of research, experience, and innovation. They will help leaders understand why good intentions are only the start for a safer workplace, how to sidestep common misinterpretations that can derail safety efforts, and the importance of leaders at every level being engaged with safety – starting with the most serious events first.