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How Leadership Styles Impact Employee Safety Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Leadership qualities offer impact approaches to safety

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Everyone develops a unique leadership style over time. Your style will depend on many factors, including person­ality traits, experi­ence, values and the organi­zat­ional culture in which you have worked. Over time, these shape the way in which we lead others.

Research has shown that our leadership style can be broken down into two distinct parts. These two parts generally can be described as: 1) our focus on process, tasks and results and, 2) our focus on people and relati­ons­hips. Think of these as two indepe­ndent contin­uums, such that your leadership style could be high or low on both process and people. Depending on your level of process focus and your level of people focus, this will say a lot about your natural leadership style


Transa­ctional leaders, who have a high process and low people focus, tend to be autocratic and directive in their leadership style. As the name suggests, they view the leader­-su­bor­dinate relati­onship as a transa­ction where rewards or negative conseq­uences are contingent upon succes­sfully meeting (or not meeting) specific goals. They are naturally comfor­table creating clear boundaries between themselves and their team members.

Therefore, transa­cters tend to provide consis­tency and clear expect­ations, but also can be demanding and lack empathy, which hinders their ability to build strong relati­onships and engage with employees.

How Transa­cters Impact Safety

Safety Leader Strengths
Safety Leader Blind Spots
Set clear expect­ations for safe behavior
Impersonal or intimi­dating style can discourage near-miss reporting
Approach employees regarding at-risk behavior and discipline safety violations
Employees may feel as though they are not heard or supported with respect to safety concerns.
Provide structure and consis­tency regarding safety policies and proced­ures.
Can drive a pure compliance or "­Che­ck-­the­-bo­x" approach to safe behavior


Transf­orm­ational leadership has been researched for decades and has been linked to many positive outcomes. Being naturally high on both people focus and process focus, this leadership style strikes a natural balance between looking out for people’s wellbeing and morale, while ensuring that goals and deadlines are met in a consistent manner. Leaders who naturally are high on process and people focus will find it easier to achieve this balance and inspire their direct reports to achieve success.

Transf­ormers know how to motivate each indivi­dual, and know how to get the most out of their people while keeping them engaged. Their high standards can be demanding on some, and they are known for pushing people outside their comfort zone

How Transf­ormers Impact Safety

Safety Leader Strengths
Safety Leader Blind Spots
Can inspire employees to make safety a life-style rather than just complying with safety policies
Push some indivi­iduals too far outside their comfort zone with respect to safety expect­ations
Commun­icate cler and consistent expect­ations for safe behavior, apply discipline for safety violations when needed
Some employees may feel the leader is not genuine in their concerns for employee safety
Strong personal relati­onships promotes employee engagement with safety
High expect­ations for safety engagement and partic­ipation may demotivate some employees.


If you ever worked for someone who was more like a friend than a boss, then he or she likely was a relater. With a high people and low process focus, relaters care more about the person and their well-being than meeting goals or object­ives. They are approa­chable and non-th­rea­tening, making it easy for their subord­inates to work for them. Employees respond well to their supportive nature and genuine interest in them.

While this style has many benefits, indivi­duals with this leadership style can struggle to set clear objectives for their direct reports, and often avoid difficult conver­sations about perfor­mance. As a result, some of their direct reports may take advantage of them, knowing they are unlikely to confront them or apply conseq­uences for their perfor­mance.

How Relaters Impact Safety

Safety Leader Strengths
Safety Leader Blind Spots
Fosters employee morale and engagement in the safety culture through personal relati­onships
Struggle to set clear expect­ations for saftey behavior
Employees feel more comfor­table appora­ching leader about safety concerns
May avoid conforting employees about risk behavior or safety violat­uions
Demeaner facili­tates near-miss reporting and other lead indicators
Some employees may take advantage by ignoring policies and proced­ures.


The overseer leadership style is very similar to laissez faire leader­ship, where a supervisor leads from afar and provides his/her subord­inates with a high level of autonomy in how they perform their work. Being low on process focus, indivi­duals with this leadership style are not highly structured or detailed in their planning and are "­han­ds-­off."

Leaders with this style place a high degree of trust in their subord­inates and avoid microm­anaging them. Because they also have a lower people focus, overseers also tend to be a bit detached from their subord­inates in that they do not feel a strong need to know them on a personal basis or build strong relati­onships with them.

While most employees enjoy autonomy, overseers may be out of touch with their team’s activities and fail to provide clear expect­ations for perfor­mance.

How Overseers Impact Safety

Safety Leader Strengths
Safety Leader Blind Spots
Employee feel they are trusted to work safely and avoid unnece­ssary risks
Makes assump­tions about employees' level of safety knowledge and training.
Provides automony and flexibiity in deciding how to safely handle a task
Employees have unclear expect­ations about expect­ations for safe behavior
Unlikely to use fear or punishment as a means of enforcing safety
Difficulty building relati­onships makes it hard to engage employees in safety cultures