Lieu de réalisation
Université de Bordeaux
Langue :
Sharon G. Clarke (Intervention)
Détenteur des droits
Université de Bordeaux
Citer cette ressource :
Sharon G. Clarke. Univ Bordeaux. (2022, 6 juillet). Leading for Safety: Understanding the Importance of Being a Leader , in European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology / 15th conference. [Vidéo]. Canal-U. (Consultée le 29 février 2024)

Leading for Safety: Understanding the Importance of Being a Leader

Réalisation : 6 juillet 2022 - Mise en ligne : 19 juillet 2022
  • document 1 document 2 document 3
  • niveau 1 niveau 2 niveau 3

Leadership plays a critical role in ensuring a safe workplace. Research has established that leadership emerges as a major factor in studies of safety climate and safety culture in an organisational context. We know from leadership / culture research more widely that leadership is important for ‘setting the tone’ from the top, but also that over time, culture will influence how one leads, although culture tends to evolve at a slower pace than changing leader behaviours.

We know that as leaders we have a profound effect that ripples throughout an organisation, with leader behaviours influencing the health, wellbeing and safety of employees, peers, customers / clients, and a wider group of stakeholders. Clarke (2010) showed the relative strength of safety leadership effects on employees’ health & wellbeing, job attitudes, and safety behaviours. Given their influence, leadership behaviours have been studied extensively, with most focus on the positive effects of constructive styles, especially transformational. However, particularly in safety-critical organisations, both transformational, and transactional styles, are associated with stronger safety climate, and employees’ compliance and participation (Clarke, 2013). In high-risk contexts, where the severity of consequences is well-understood, there is greater need and acceptance of a directive style that provides clarity for employees.

Furthermore, an ability to adapt one’s leadership style to the context is also associated with higher levels of safety (Willis, Clarke & O’Connor, 2017). Taking a within-person approach to leadership allows us to move away from ‘style’ and acknowledge that a flexible behavioural repertoire might be especially relevant for managing safety across situations with differing risk. Willis, Clarke and O’Connor (2021) identified profiles of leaders’ safety behaviours, using latent profile analysis, where moderate use of both transformational and transactional, alongside low levels of passive, leader behaviours, was most strongly associated with safety. Research on safety leadership has favoured a micro-level approach, with most work focused at direct supervisory level, where the supervisor acts as a frame-of-reference for employees’ safety perceptions, which consequently feed into organisational safety culture. Such leader behaviours act to strengthen safety climate, feeding into wider safety culture. Recent work in UK construction sector has highlighted strong safety culture in the context of the pandemic, which emphasizes behavioural safety, as a backdrop to integrate pandemic-related rules and encourage compliance (Johnson, Hartwig, Clarke, et al., 2022). The latest phase of this work shows the critical nature of leader presence (as a dimension of safety culture): as higher-level managers worked from home, this affected the extent to which senior leaders were visible on-site, where leading by example was identified as crucial. In high-hazard highly-regulated industries, little work has considered the macro-level, where the relationship between the organisation and the regulator acts as a critical element of safety culture. Recent work, from a macro perspective, highlights how the regulator is viewed in different ways; not only as an enforcer, but also often taking a leadership-type role by setting an example to be followed (Clarke et al, 2022, under review).


>> Sharon Clarke, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom


Dans la même collection

Sur le même thème