EHSDA Shorts: What Health and Safety Pros Can Learn from Sports Leaders

In this episode of EHSDA Shorts, Lawrence Waterman, OBE, Founding Partner, Park Health, explains what the two types of sports leaders are and what can health and safety professionals learn from them.

This clip was taken from a webinar titled “Safety Leadership Lessons of the Sports Legends.” The full session is available for FREE on-demand by clicking here.

This webinar was sponsored by Ideagen.

Transcript: (edited for clarity):

Question: What are the two types of sports leaders and what can health and safety professionals learn from them?

Waterman: When we think about sports leadership, it’s likely that people will quote a great coach, like Vince Lombardi: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Preventing accidents and enhancing health and well-being isn’t just everything, it’s the only thing that you’re trying to do from a health and safety point of view.

You can speak about coaches who are on the sidelines and looking at the ways in which they can manage and motivate. You get people like (Lionel) Messi who talk very explicitly that his job is to get better every day. Tiger Woods said, “The best thing about tomorrow is that I’ll be better than I am today.”
You’ve got people who are playing the game and are leading, and you’ve got people that are coaching from the sidelines. Most health and safety people have both roles because they’re managing a team, they’re participants in a team, they’re part of the workforce most of the time, so their behavior, the way that they hold themselves, the way they communicate, is a player but at the same time they’re coaches and they’re standing back from the teams that they’re trying to encourage, challenge, train, lead, and a lot of the time what you’re trying to do in coaching is find the leaders within the players who can help convey your message and make it live on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis.
I think that the two types of leaders are the ones that roll up their sleeves and say, “Do it the way that I’m doing it, follow my lead.” You can do that as a health and safety leader in the way that you communicate, the way that you treat people with respect, the way that you listen, not just broadcast. There are those coaches who are standing to one side who were trying to get the best performing team to be even better and to act as a motivating exemplar for all of the other teams in the organization.