Safety Leadership – Management is not leadership


Management is not leadership. The statement may seem obvious to some but what is the difference? Seth gives us a couple of pointers.

Management is successful when you get people to do what they did yesterday faster and cheaper and maybe a little better. Management is all about compliance. Getting people to do what you want. Either by telling them, paying them, threatening them, sometimes inspiring them. But this is not leadership.

Leadership is what we call it when someone steps up to cause a change to happen. A change that might not work which needs other people to help you. Importantly, if you are doing this all by yourself, this is not leadership.

Leadership is what we call it when we need to enrol others to where you are going and explore what is possible. To make a change occur which wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t leading.

Using Seth’s paradigm,┬áSafety Management is the day to day activity for compliance. Everything is well documented, planned and assessed and all that needs to be done is to comply. Repeatable, predictable processes. Great safety management is doing all of this, cheaper and faster!

Safety leadership on the other hand, is what we call it when we need to cause a change in safety. To make those shifts from what we are doing, to what we need to do. And on a large scale with people, often with no guarantee of success. We know what the end game looks like but have no idea how to get there. We also know we need to bring everyone along the journey. Telling people what to do is not a permanent solution!

Setting clear expectations, documenting work procedures and implementing rewards and punishment is safety management.

Sharing a motivating vision which energises a group of people to be courageous to do new things, learning and growing at every step, is safety leadership.

What do you see happening around you? What is it you need?


1 thought on “Safety Leadership – Management is not leadership”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *