Safety Leadership – Engaging with others


Safety Leaders engage with people. They engage with purpose and intent. They use the power of open questions and leverage their understanding of the human needs. They recognise the importance of engagement and never miss an opportunity. Leaders engage people to enlist them as followers. Here is a simple checklist you can use to create a routine:

  1. Seek permission– “Have you got a moment to talk with me about safety?”
  2. Intent: Be clear what you want to get out of the conversation. Learn something new, set expectations or just build rapport with someone through sharing a common experience.
  3. Ask an open question. Here are 3 that to get a purposeful safety conversation started:
  • Can you help me understand what risks you see with this task?
  • What did you think about in preparing for this task?
  • What are you concerned about today?
  1. Listen intently to the responses– repeat the important points back. “So what I heard you say the main risk is…..”Also listen for and ask about any hooks. Things you didn’t expect?
  2. Identify a key behaviour you would like to see again and positively reinforce. Leave the person energised to take action. Remember a behaviour rewarded is a behaviour repeated. For example “I like how you did …….” Make their action a habit.
  3. Follow up with any agreed action for both of you. Make sure you seek the person out and either advise what you have done or ask what they have done. This creates mutual commitment.
  4. Finally, spend a moment to reflect on the discussion you had. Did you listen or talk more? Were you sharing your knowledge or seeking out the other persons? What did you learn?

Safety leaders use these conversations to enlist and energise followers. They know as a leader it isn’t about you. It is all about those following.


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