Yin & Yang Safety Management & Leadership
What is more important – good safety management or good safety leadership? Essentially this is a debate that began in 1977, when a Harvard Business School Professor published a paper titled “Managers and Leaders: Are they Different?” It remains a topic of hot discussion and has particular relevance to the health and safety function.
In this presentation, we will compare safety management and safety leadership to the Taoist concept of Yin and Yang. Yin / Yang are the two halves that together complete wholeness. Both halves are constantly seeking to achieve a balance and therefore there is an intrinsic level of tension.
Safety management involves the practices, systems and processes that are seeking to promote consistency and reliability. A key descriptor often associated with management is control.
In comparison, the goal of safety leadership is to inspire and engage people. It requires vision, finding opportunity and empowering others. Leadership is about creating change.
According to Harvard Professor John Kotter, “Managers promote stability whilst leaders press for change, and only organisations that embrace both sides of that contradiction can thrive in turbulent times”. Kotter warns that “At a certain point, we end up with over-managed and under-led organisations, which are increasingly vulnerable in a fast-moving world”.
As a Performance Culture Consultancy, the Actrua team have the benefit of working with our clients to support their organisational culture, leadership and safety performance. We will share insights from a number of recent client case studies to demonstrate how safety management and leadership practices can be complementary. It is when a healthy balance is achieved that sustaining safety performance is achieved.