Brake, the road safety charity, recently hosted a webinar with Lytx titled “Effective Leadership for Safe and Healthy Mobility in Fleets.” Fleet safety leaders from organizations in the logistics, utilities, and construction sector all presented various angles on the topic of effective leadership and fleet safety.
Below is a snapshot of the most important points from this webinar:
What leaders of strong safety programs look like
Using personal experience, best practices, and industry research, a few of the webinar’s presenters described the qualities that leaders with strong safety programs have in common.
There was agreement that the skills to successfully lead safety are the same as those needed to lead outstanding organizations:
- Pays attention to detail
- Focuses on execution
- Creates standardized and disciplined procedures
- Understands roles
- Uses meaningful metrics
- Has personal accountability
- Aligns group vision and mission
In a broader sense, an effective leader is engaging. The stereotype of a leader as someone with vision, confidence, and all the right answers isn’t necessarily true. Being able to engage others in a safety program is more important than being a visionary or fountain of knowledge.
Also, the best fleet safety leaders have these behaviors in common:
Modeling. Leaders model the behavior they want to see and step to the front to show it.
- Facilitating. Leaders get involved in the team’s needs. They find simple solutions for complex problems—small ways to make things better.
- Enabling. Leaders empower others to figure out the answer versus just giving orders or reciting safety procedures. They shine the spotlight on their team.
And to truly embed a culture of safety, a leader should have these four foundational beliefs:
- The best action an organization can take to align and engage employees is to make them feel valued. A culture of positive safety does that.
- A journey to safety excellence has to be a crusade, not a casual endeavor. People will not normally evolve to change of this magnitude. It must be deliberate, with a crafted process and messaging.
- There must be energy around the vision.
- The journey must be leadership driven.
8 best practices for fleet safety leaders
The webinar also covered the top safety program practices that all fleet safety leaders should know:
- Create a compelling ROI story to win and retain the support of senior leadership. Safety is not a revenue generating department. It's an expense. Leaders need to bring programs in that will lower expenses (e.g. the reduction in collision costs) and that's the ROI.
- Elevate employee engagement with a strong safety culture. Some tips for driving engagement include: use case studies to create urgency around safety, build internal coalitions, have a vision and broadcast it widely, get some short-term wins, and empower front-line managers by making them accountable for progress and giving them the tools to achieve.
- Keep drivers on track with quick, continuous coaching. On-going coaching connects drivers to the safety culture and is more effective than episodic training. Focus on remediation and retention, instead of discipline.
- Boost buy-in with effective communications. It’s impossible to over communicate a safety program. Use all the tools available (email, posters, texts, etc.) for safety communications and remember it’s a two-way street—take feedback from drivers as they’re the people in the field every day.
- Leverage analytics to increase safety program effectiveness. Data and technology help identify and focus on the most important areas of risk in order to measure progress and continually improve.
- Integrate all safety technologies. Making sure all technologies, ranging from vehicle systems to video telematics software, play nice together helps fleets scale and get accurate data to support their safety initiatives.
- Create accountability. Everyone should know their role within the safety program and how they’ll be measured. This sets a clear path to reach all safety goals. Remember to also celebrate achievements and their positive impacts – reductions in collisions or emissions not only save money but also improves and saves lives.
- Build team spirit. The safety mentality for drivers and other fleet team members should shift from reactive (natural instincts), to dependent (supervision), then independent (self), and finally interdependent (team spirit).
Leadership of fleet safety doesn’t just happen. It needs to be enabled through committed and knowledgeable directors working toward defined and well-written procedures. Strong leadership is needed to advance road safety in countries and communities worldwide.