While being a good leader takes work, being a great leader comes naturally to some, but for others, it takes a combination of dedication and insight. This applies to leaders across the board – the fields of environment, health and safety (EHS) are no exception.
So then the next question becomes: What makes a great leader?
Initially, EHS leaders were hired for their technical expertise. Now, they are being perceived as a part of the larger operational team, which can include human resources, finance, operations, quality and more.
As the role of the EHS leader has evolved, both in terms of breadth and depth, the role has become one that has greater influence and impact on the business. For this reason, companies look at the strength of these leaders, not only to help the business meet its EHS objectives, but also help it meet business objectives by engaging employees.
Key Qualities and Goals of Highly Effective Leaders
Given the importance of organizations to have a culture that embraces EHS, a top-down approach is an effective way to achieve this. As such, this requires buy-in, active participation and advocacy by these leaders .
Other characteristics that add value to the role include accountability, approachability and a future-looking mindset and approach to meeting their objectives. As is the case for other types of business leaders, the ability of EHS leaders to influence individuals at all levels of the organization (i.e. both upwards and downwards), motivate and engage employees and drive change are essential for success.
Common Practices of Strong EHS Decision-Makers
Here are some common practices that effective EHS leaders apply to their day-to-day routine:
- Recognize employees who apply safe practices or processes to their jobs.
- Garner feedback from employees and acknowledge engagement.
- Lead by example.
- Visit sites and/or the field on a regular basis (to get a first-hand look at field operations and make recommendations where needed).
- Invest in innovation and technology (while still being people-focused).
It’s clear that a hands-on approach to leading is what will have a strong impact – both in the short and long term.
To learn more about what our leaders have to say about various aspects of their role and responsibilities, please click here.