Workplace Communicator Blog

7 Good Supervisor Leadership Skills for Safety

Posted by Marie-Claire Ross on Tue, Nov 12, 2013


Supervisors are critical when it comes to the job satisfaction, safety performance, productivity and skills development of your workforce.

The good news is that you don't need to improve your supervisor leadership skills in all of these four areas.  Just by focusing on improving leadership skills of your supervisors in just one key area will automatically improve other areas.  So what's the magic area to work on?


By focusing on improving your supervisor's standards on safety will automatically mean high standards will be expected in other areas such as productivity and on-the-job learning.

A good example of this is Alcoa.  Back in 1987, when the CEO Paul O'Neill came in to improve the company he focused purely on safety.  That was enough to automatically improve other areas such as productivity and even profits.

So to get the best out of your team - what are good leadership skills?  What are the qualities of good leadership that improves safety and therefore, business performance?

The seven good leadership skills of supervisors are:

  1. Being able to foster, open friendly communication and dialogues about safety - Great supervisors encourage everyone to talk about safety no matter what their age, gender or race. They promote two-way conversation where they listen to others and ask questions/make statements.
  2. Leading by example - all actions are symbolic, what supervisors stand for and value comes through in their actions.  Supervisors must make sure their words, match their actions.
  3. A positive attitude towards safety - Interestingly, companies with supervisors that believe that workplace deaths are an inevitable part of doing business, almost always have more fatalities than other companies who don't believe that.  Just by having a positive attitude towards safety means that safety improves.
  4. Valuing safety over production pressures - Great supervisors let staff know that they will not be punished for turning off a machine that will result in a delay, but which could also have cut off their arm.  People are always more important than deadlines.
  5. Share important safety-related information - Beware supervisors that don't think to share safety information.  Great supervisors have a mindset of constantly improving and training on safety.  This means staff quickly realise how important safety is in the workplace.
  6. Enable positive communication between frontline and senior management - Often, many senior executives fail to realise that they need their supervisors to buy-in to their initiatives.  Great supervisors are able to talk with both senior management and frontline staff.
  7. Never ignore poor safety behaviours - Companies that have a poor safety culture have supervisors that ignore poor safety behaviours.  Even worse, supervisors with very poor leadership skills have been known to joke around and even join in during inappropriate behaviours.  Great supervisors pull people up when they do the wrong thing.

These seven leadership qualities also form an important checklist on how you can ensure you hire supervisors that will improve safety.  Not make it decline.

If you're not sure whether your supervisors are exhibiting the right behaviours to help your workplace thrive, download our free 18 Supervisor Behaviours that Produce a Thriving Culture.

If you want to train your supervisors on these seven leadership skills, find out more about our Supervisor Leadership Skills for a Safe Workplace course.

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Topics: qualities of good leadership, good leadership skills, good leadership qualities