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The Power of "Want to" Attitudes in Safety

In the realm of leadership, it's often said that a great leader doesn't just excel by their own merit but by guiding a team of great individuals. This is especially true regarding achieving safety success in an organization. A leader's role isn't just about managing others; it’s about inspiring and influencing the entire team to contribute their best.

The Role of Discretional Effort in Safety Excellence

I've observed that sustainable safety excellence is rarely achieved through mandatory efforts alone. Instead, it's the result of influencing the workforce to engage in safety practices proactively. As an organization strides towards a high-impact safety culture, the discretionary effort of each team member becomes increasingly crucial. This type of engagement, where employees are involved in safety efforts because they want to, not because they have to, cannot be forced or merely managed.

From "I Have To" to "I Want To"

For a leader, the real challenge is to shift from a managing mindset to one of influencing. The difference between managing and leading lies in this very ability to influence. Managing involves using external motivators to prompt actions, whereas influencing creates an environment where team members are driven by internal motivators. The goal is to have a team that engages in safety practices because they are intrinsically motivated to do so, not just because they are obliged.

Coaching for Performance: Observation and Feedback

A critical aspect of leadership is coaching for performance, which primarily involves observation and providing feedback. Coaching helps individuals improve their own performance, which should be behaviorally defined and observable. Sustainable improvement in safety performance requires more than just achieving short-term gains; it involves fostering a genuine desire in employees to improve and own their progress. This requires influencing and coaching rather than just managing.

Finding Your Focus in Safety Coaching

Coaching for safety is a tangible goal, as desirable safety behaviors have been well-documented over the years. Leaders can analyze incidents to identify key precautions to prevent future occurrences. Keeping the focus list short helps in memory retention and in developing self-sustaining safety habits.

The Ripple Effect of Influencing Leadership

As leaders experience positive changes in safety through their influencing and coaching efforts, trust in this leadership style grows. This approach can be effectively applied to other areas such as production, quality, customer satisfaction, and project management, leading to overall organizational improvement.

Reflecting on Your Leadership Impact

The way you lead has a significant impact not just on your success but also on those around you. Reflecting on your experiences with past coaches or leaders can be enlightening. Ask yourself whether you want to emulate or diverge from their style. This introspection is a vital step towards making a positive difference in the lives of your team members.

The path to safety success in any organization is paved with more than just directives and management. It requires a leader who can influence and inspire, fostering a culture where safety is not just a requirement but a collective value. By focusing on influencing rather than managing, providing effective coaching, and finding the right focus, leaders can cultivate a safety culture that is both sustainable and deeply ingrained in the organization's ethos.

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