By NZISM Secretary
Kia ora koutou to all members and supporters of NZISM.
I trust you had a restful holiday period and are ready to dive into 2019 with passion and vigor as you work with your various stakeholders to help them on their health and safety journey. Unfortunately, it has not been a great start to the year with two work related fatalities and a number of serious incidents that have caused significant injuries to those involved. Like the end of the year, the start of a new one comes with increased risk as workers transition from holiday mode to work mode. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those that have been affected by these events.
This year I want to focus on talking about leadership, not my journey, although that may come up now and again, but I want to focus on the leadership journey of health and safety practitioners and professionals. At the Safeskills conference last year the focus was the role of leadership by health and safety representatives. The key message being, that leadership is not just for those in titled or powerful positions, the most important leadership comes from individuals who within their own areas of a workplace take on the challenge of leadership.
Emotional Intelligence is a significant factor in leadership development, studies in this area have been undertaken since the early 1900’s, it was the 1995 book by Daniel Goleman “Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ” that stated that “EQ may be the best predictor of success in life”. Emotional Intelligence has four key dimensions as the drivers for leadership potential, these being Authenticity, Coaching, Insight and Innovation. When you think about these words in the context of the roles we hold in health and safety they are absolutely the key skills we should all aspire to having.
There are five leadership competencies and 15 subscales related to leadership behaviours that make up our emotional intelligence inventory. The five competencies include Self Perception, Self-Expression, Interpersonal, Decision Making and Stress Management. To have a high level of emotional intelligence you have to know yourself, this means understanding your strengths and weaknesses, having self confidence and a drive to engage in personnel development in areas that are relevant in your life. Importantly you need to understand your emotions and the causes and impacts of those emotions on your thoughts and actions.
A health and safety role can be a lonely one, being comfortable with self-direction and working autonomously with good planning skills is crucial, along with a critical component of assertiveness. The key to this is being able to be assertive in a way that is socially acceptable, non-offensive and non-destructive. Emotional self-expression is another important aspect of leadership, using language and physical expressions to convey feelings enables the creation of authentic and trusting relationships where there is open communication.
Building on the above is the ability to create and maintain relationships that are based on trust and compassion. Empathy and how you recognise, understand and appreciate what others are feeling contributes significantly to your authenticity as a leader. Morals, ethics and social responsibility are an important aspect in our roles in helping organisations navigate through the peaks and troughs of leading the people in their organisations. Understanding your ethical compass or belief systems is another aspect of getting to know yourself, are you an idealist, an existentialist, a naturalist or a pragmatist and how does this effect your decision making?
Other aspects of your decision-making skills relate to your ability to understand the emotional impact of problem solving, can you remain objective, do you understand where you might have a particular bias, do you have impulse control to avoid making rash decisions.
In times of increased stress, as many people experience now days, having the ability to identify when your bucket may be full is significant. The flexibility to adapt emotions and thoughts, coping with stressful or difficult situations and a belief that you can manage those situations in a positive way all contribute to being resilient and hopeful despite whatever setbacks might occur.
If you are looking to advance your own leadership development then the first step is to get introduced to yourself, it can be challenging to do this as you need to be honest and confront aspects of yourself that you might not want to acknowledge. You might want to engage with the NZISM mentoring or peer support network as you work through this process.
Finally, I come back to one of the four dimensions of leadership, that of authenticity, this is represented well in the following whakataukī (pearl of wisdom) of “Tohaina ā painga ki te ao” or “Share your gifts with the world”
Nga mihi nui
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