Safety Leadership – Should we Stop Using this Term?

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    Welcome All,

    Many object to the use of the phrase “Safety Leadership”.  What are your thoughts on the subject?


    I think safety leadership is a leadership style in and of itself. The academic literature makes a distinction between transformational leadership and safety-specific transformational leadership because you can be a transformational leader and pay no attention to safety.


    But that’s the point @HSEguy, if you are a transformational leader that pays no attention to safety, then are you really a leader?

    Shouldn’t a leader have all leadership qualities, and if they miss any, well then they aren’t really a leader


    @corporatehseqmanager, not all leaders are created equal. Some leaders will focus on quality more than safety. Many more will prioritize $$ over all else. Safety may be on every leader’s agenda but the passion and drive for it will vary from one leader to the next.


    Check out Alcoa’s Paul O’Neill for the pioneer of safety leadership


    Everyone refers to Alcoa’s Paul O’Neill story, like its the only story on safety leadership.

    Does anyone else know of any other stories about safety leadership?


    The term “Safety Leadership” can be a controversial one, with some people objecting to its use because they believe that safety is everyone’s responsibility, not just that of leaders. However, in my opinion, the term can still be useful in promoting a culture of safety within an organization. Effective safety leadership involves setting clear expectations for safety performance, providing resources and support for safety initiatives, and modeling safe behaviors.


    Thanks @Majith, there is definitely support for the points you make in the academic literature.

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