The three “C’s” of effective safety leadership

These pillars offer a 'how' and 'why' for safety pros, says BGIS vice president

The three “C’s” of effective safety leadership

Safety leadership is a critical aspect of organizational success, and Mary Lou Sinclair, vice president of health, safety, and environment, North America & UK at BGIS Global Integrated Solutions, offers invaluable insights into what she refers to as the "three C's" of safety leadership. These guiding principles encompass conscience, coaching, and celebration, each playing a pivotal role in shaping an organization's safety culture.

Conscience: Advocating for safety with a purpose

For Sinclair, the first "C" is conscience, emphasizing the role of safety leaders as the moral compass of their organizations. She believes that safety leaders should act as the organization's conscience, delivering vital messages, insisting on being heard, and promptly addressing safety concerns. "It's about preparing the organization for what's coming down the road and helping them make informed decisions," says Sinclair.

Conscience requires a proactive approach where safety leaders fearlessly identify areas for improvement and challenge the organization to prioritize safety. Sinclair encourages safety professionals to integrate safety discussions into regular meetings, ensuring that safety remains at the forefront of business decisions.

Coaching: Empowering others

The second "C" is coaching. Sinclair underscores the significance of guiding and empowering team members, especially those in leadership roles, to become effective safety supervisors. She acknowledges that not all supervisors possess extensive safety expertise, making it crucial for safety professionals to mentor and help them grasp their safety responsibilities.

"We have to coach them through the problems," explains Sinclair, which involves teaching them how to identify hazards, conduct risk assessments, and develop a keen eye for safety issues. Effective coaching is not merely about identifying problems but also about providing practical solutions and ensuring their implementation.

Celebration: Recognizing safety contributions

The third "C" is celebration. Sinclair says it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate both small and significant achievements in safety. This includes recognizing individuals and teams that actively contribute to a safer workplace.

"Recognition is very personal," Sinclair notes, saying not everyone seeks the same type of acknowledgment. However, verbal recognition and tangible appreciation from leadership can serve as powerful motivators for employees. She encourages safety leaders to celebrate incremental improvements, as they contribute to a safer work environment.

Sinclair's insights on the Three "C's" of safety leadership - conscience, coaching, and celebration - provide a valuable framework for health and safety professionals. Her emphasis on being the organization's conscience, coaching team members, and celebrating achievements are pillars that can prop up a holistic safety culture. As Sinclair rightly points out, these "C's" not only guide the "how" but also offer a compelling "why" for safety professionals to continuously demonstrate their value within their organizations.