What is Safety Leadership Coaching?

My definition:  Safety Leadership Coaching is an emerging field of professional development for yourself and others.

TIP:  Scan the words in bold.  Then apply them to your world.  Then call me to discuss.

The phrase “emerging field” recognizes the fact that the safety business is new, since OSHA gained influence in 1970.  Prior to that time, workers were measured by hands, feet or hours of productivity.  The early “safety professionals” were compliance-driven people tasked with issuing fines, citations, tickets, and quotas.  At some companies, “Safety Infraction Report” mandate was required by 4:00 each afternoon; and if you received 3 SIRs then it was time to find another job.  Many safety employees were former police or military.   The “Safety Cop” compliance requirements remain a powerful legacy today.

In the 1990s the safety industry, like most industries, was affected by global trends including humanism and diversity.  Individual choice was recognized more than ever. Leadership and organizational development programs emerged as professional schools of research.  In the workforce, safety leaders supported individual choice, good judgement, and reinforced desired behaviors.  “Safety coaching” emerged as the dominant methodology to observe and recommend desired behaviors.  The Certified Safety Professional Program, endorsed by BCSP, gained impact as a minimal standard for hiring and program implementation. Safety leadership coaching emerged as a field of professional development.

The phrase “professional development for yourself” recognizes the fact that all change starts at an individual level.  As a species, humans change in response to external influences that promote our survival.  If we need to learn a new skill, or relocate to the next job site, we do so.  In the U.S. most people now have 5 careers on average.  However, too many safety leaders only have one career.  Too many people resist change.  Safety leaders can embrace coaching and training; or they can ignore it.  They can embrace career changes; or they can ignore them.  Too many safety leaders ignore career development opportunities.  Safety leadership coaching encourages people to explore choices and develop their strengths.

The phrase “professional development for others” reinforces the job description that safety  leaders typically “observe and recommend” desired behaviors.  They typically have broad access to all aspects of a job site or company.  Consequently they have vast potential impact on all aspects such as quality, operations, sales, business development, etc.  However, safety leaders do not embrace their potential impact.  Too often they “stick to their own business” and “keep their heads down.”  That limits their impact as leaders.  Safety leadership coaching leverages the vast access and potential impact of safety leaders.  Safety leadership coaching helps leaders obtain desired results.

There is an old story about the student who seeks a teacher. He travels to many lands and reads a lot, stares at a mirror, and generates lists.  He is lonely, alone.  One day he realizes that he learns best when he is in relationship with others.

So it is with safety coaching.  Humans learn best when we are in relationship with others.

Here are some simple coaching questions:

1.  Who is the wisest leader you know?

2.  How can you develop better relationships with others?

3.  What are you afraid of in your career?

4.  Who needs you to coach them?

Send me your answers, or comment below.

BIO:  Doug Gray, PCC, has coached 50+ safety leaders and learned from their expertise.  He knows nothing about fall protection standards. or 704.895.7479