Insight: Leadership stimulates growth and safety improvement, culture sustains it. Culture will either reinforce the changes you introduced or diminish them depending upon the values, beliefs and behaviours the leaders have ingrained in the organization.
Culture sustains performance, for better or worse. Leaders who have a clear vision about safety talk about it. They know where they are going and how to get there. They get input from all levels of the organization. Leaders understand how they respond will impact the culture. They see the workers as problems solvers and part of the solution as opposed to people that make mistakes and are part of the problem.
Comment: Leaders create a culture with every interaction they have every day, i.e. phone calls, emails, meetings, questions they ask, how they respond, how their body language transmits their emotions, how approachable they are.
Once again Human and Organizational principles play a key role in developing the culture. Specifically, how leaders respond matters and will drive the culture, i.e. how leaders respond when they see gaps in the execution of the high-risk tasks, how they respond when an incident happens, and how they respond when they review safety-related performance data.
Various leaders can view the same information or evidence and see something different. What they see will depend upon their value, beliefs and principles. This will reveal if the organization is focused on learning and improving, or blame and punishment. Do they focus on the results and manage the KPI’s or how the results were obtained? This applies when performance meets expectations as well as when it does not. Once leaders recognize that people, even our best people, at all levels of the organization will make mistakes, a culture of psychological safety can be created.