Walk the talk during a time of crisis: An Application of Propulo’s safe production leadership model
By Madison Hanscom, Ph.D.
It is the responsibility of leaders to demonstrate how to act during times of uncertainty. At its core, walking the talk involves leaders acting in ways that align with their stated values and the stated values of the company. When a leader practices what they preach, this builds trust among followers, which is the belief that leaders will act in their best interest. This in turn helps create improved safety culture, morale, and safety outcomes. Although employees always look to leaders as role models, this is particularly important during times of crisis. During difficult moments like the one we are currently in with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several things you can do to “walk the talk”:
- Make ethical decisions — Demonstrate to employees that safety is your main priority in your words and actions. This is an ethical choice to make. Although sustaining production or recovering profit might seem to be a critical goal, respect for the human condition should be a competing interest. Consider the distilleries across the country making hand sanitizer. Many are taking a cut in profit by stalling regular production, though they are supporting their local communities with the larger effort of keeping us all safe. Virtuous behavior does not go unnoticed.
- Act quickly and stick to it – It is important to be on the cutting edge as a leader. It is likely that new protocol will be implemented as our businesses and communities navigate how to live in a new normal. For instance, social distancing measures will likely be implemented in public spaces upon reopening. It is important for leaders to be the first to embrace the change and to do it with enthusiasm. Leaders should also be sustaining them. It is important to continue with these measures in a consistent way, even after weeks have passed. Although it is frustrating to wear a face mask at work, if your employees are required, it is important you do so as well.
- Be visible — Whether you are leading a team of essential working onsite or you are leading your workforce virtually, being visible is a key part of walking the talk. Although it might be difficult to make your rounds in the workplace or have check-ins with employees virtually during an unusual time like this, finding the time will make a difference. Be sure to include safety values into conversations during these times with employees. Lead by example and share your new habits with those you work with. It might inspire them to pick up new habits themselves.
These principles hold true during times of prosperity, crisis, and also the transitional periods in between. Times of change and recovery can be difficult, but by demonstrating these leadership competencies in a consistent manner, leaders can work towards building a successful “new normal”.
Read more from this blog series:
At Propulo, we work with leaders to develop micro-habits associated with effective leadership behaviors. We can help your company make safety “who we are” instead of “something we do.”