Do You Act Like You’re The Chief Safety Officer?

Oftentimes, the expression “fake it till you make it” bears the negative implication of trying to achieve career growth even when unqualified. But, when done right, portraying the role you want to achieve like the Chief Safety Officer helps you achieve career growth.

So, let’s talk about 3 ways how to properly do it that will establish the foundation for your growth as a safety professional.

Act Like Your Ideal Future Job

Usually, we only act in the role that we are given. It may sound reasonable to do so because you are only paid for your current duties and responsibilities. But, doing so can lead to the stagnation of your skills, abilities, and, ultimately, your career growth

Portraying or acting the role that you want to achieve in the future prevents this stagnation

And to properly do so, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your dream or ideal future job. For example, if you want to become a safety director or regional manager, think about what skills you need in order to be competent in that position.

Not only does it make you a primary candidate for promotion but also gives you a great advantage once you’ve landed that promotion. Since you’ve identified the necessary skills early you can start working on them now as you portray your current role.

Act Like a Leader

As safety managers, it can sometimes feel like we don’t belong in the decision-making meetings. It can be due to the company’s culture or it can be due to not having a dedicated safety professional in a company for a long time. In effect, it can cause you to be afraid of giving opinions or suggestions.

Acting like a leader can help resolve these company problems. You need to act like you’re already part of the management team. During meetings, let them know your ideas and show them why your opinions matter. Because it does. Remember that safety is one of the most important departments in the company because it positively affects all the other departments.

But remember, acting like a leader does not mean bossing people around. Acting like a leader means helping out others and making them grow in their job. This is very important because once they achieve career growth, you’ll also climb up with them.

Act Passionately

Acting passionately about your job as a safety professional may sound like an irrational idea at first. Because it can cause others to feel irritated or uncomfortable with you.

But, showing passion for safety and your company means that you care for the company. That you take pride in being part of the company. And the management team will notice this.

One of the ways to act passionately for the company is using merchandise such as apparel and mugs that contain the company logo. Some people even take this to the next level by showing their company pride through their social media. This may look silly at first, but it works.

Take Action

So, these are the ways to effectively use role portrayal to achieve your dream job. Don’t wait for others to give you your dream job. Act like you already have it. And one day, you’ll just be surprised that you’ve already achieved it.

Do You Act Like You're The Chief Safety Officer?

Safety Brye: [00:00:00] Do you walk the walk? Are you acting like the leader that your position should exemplify? I don't believe in the whole fake it till you make it mentality, but I do believe that acting the part propels your advancement. If you act small, you stay small. If you act like a leader, it puts you on the path to leadership.

So let's dive into that. My friends, Hey there, safety friends. Welcome to the safety geek podcast. I'm Brye Sargent CSP and 20 year safety professional. After spending years training safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up, over and over again, I am now sharing my processes and strategies with you at the safety.

You will learn how to manage an effective safety program that increases your management support and employee engagement all the while

[00:01:00] helping you elevate your position and move up in your career. If you're ready to step into the role of a safety, influencer and leader, you're in the right place. Let's get to it.

Hello! Hello! Hello, my safety friends. Thank you so much for joining me today. I am so happy to be here. I wanna start off by sharing a story with you. So I am the daughter of a single mother who had three kids and supported us as a hairdresser her entire life. She literally did hair for 50 years and had a salon in her home.

So yes, I grew up with a hair salon in my house and access to all of the latest fashions and styles. And now I am just super happy to be in my t-shirt and jeans. What can I tell you? If my mom would wake up sick or not feeling well,

[00:02:00] she could not call into work. You know, she didn't get sick days like we do.

So she would have to like, basically suck it up and go to work. But she had a trick on those days. What she would always do is dress her best. She would always do her hair perfectly and she would put on makeup no matter what. And what she taught me was that how you look has an effect on how you feel. If you act sick, you're going to feel sick.

If you look great, when you glance in the mirror, then you won't feel sick, especially as a hairdresser, cuz they're literally looking in the mirror all day long. But that was a valuable life lesson. To me that has actually been proven with scientific evidence. In fact, I recently read a journal article that was stating that how you actually think about a situation affects how you feel about it, and then how you feel about it affects your attitude and your

[00:03:00] beliefs and all of those things. So let's talk about how this little life lesson also applies in safety management. So one thing that you need to understand and truly believe and internalize is that safety is one of the most important departments at your company. Now, you may not feel that way. You may feel like you are not treated like it's important that you're treated like the redheaded stepchild or that, you know, you get tossed to the curve when things get tough.

I've seen it many times. So I get. But the fact is we make the company money and we are the only department that positively affects all the other departments. No other department can say that. So you are extremely important. My friend, and I want you to make sure that you feel how important you are, because how you think about your role will come

[00:04:00] out in your attitude, your mannerisms and your interactions. If you don't think you're important, if you think that they're just gonna drop you to the curb anyway, your actions are going to reflect that. But if you think that you're important and that what you say matters, and that everybody should listen to you because you're one of the most important departments your actions are going to reflect that.

And what this leads to is more respect for your work. It leads to inclusion in the decision making process. It leads to others seeing your value and you becoming not just a subject matter expert, but a well rounded leader. Because here's the fact safety typically knows more about everything that's going on in the company because their work touches every single department.

So if you think about all your other departments, they kind of live in a bubble, right? They're just doing

[00:05:00] their portion of the process, but because safety touches every single employee. You understand, you know, the merchandising, the production end of it, the shipping end of it, the delivery, the sales, the management, the finances, you should be touching all of those things.

So then what you become in the company is this huge wealth of knowledge, which makes you extremely valuable to the organization. So let's say that you are currently sitting in your role and that you are a safety specialist, which to me is prob well, actually a safety coordinator I think is probably the lowest level.

That's like somebody, who's basically just doing the administrative tasks and pushing the paperwork for the safety department. A Safety specialist, I look at that as one step up that you are actually going out on the floor, you're doing the work.

[00:06:00] You are maybe, you know, coaching a little bit, and then you get the safety management where you're actually like managing the department and running the department.

You're creating programs. And then you have the director level, which maybe you have multiple locations. You're multiple employees. You're directing the program at large and making the really big decisions. So let's say that you're sitting at that low level, like safety coordinator, safety specialist, and you really wanna be like the director of a large corporation, or maybe you're sitting at like a 50, $65,000 salary, but you wanna be making that $150,000 salary that you hear about so many people doing.

So what I want you to think of is. What does that person in that position that you want in that dream position? What skills do you need to practice in order to get there? What do you need to know? And what I want you to know is that you don't wait until you have the job to get started on those skills.

[00:07:00] And on those practices, you do those. Now you start acting like the director of safety right now, even if you're just in a specialist role. So you wanna act like your future self and then you will get there. You don't wait until you get there to start acting the part because then you will never get there. And then maybe that sounds counterintuitive, but I want you to put yourself in your own shoes.

Sit here right now. If you're not driving or doing anything dangerous, just close your eyes and think about yourself in that future position that you want. And I want you to think, how is your day starting? How are you talking to people? What meetings are you spending your time in and how are you spending your time? How are you dressing for work? What is the language that you're using?

[00:08:00] And then as you're answering those questions, you wanna apply those to your current position. So let's say that you wanna be a director for safety and you can't wear jeans in a t-shirt like me, right? If you're wearing jeans in a t-shirt all the time as the head of a large corporate safety department, you are not going to be able to be effective because people will not take you seriously.

I know that there's a ton of startup people out there that wear hoodies and jeans and they get their respect. Right. That just isn't the case in safety. Right? This is why you wanna make sure that you're showing up in a manner that you're going to gain that respect. So if you don't know me personally, , I'm gonna give you a little insight into myself. Not only am I a jeans and t-shirt wearing safety manager. I also have a huge

[00:09:00] potty mouth. So if I was to walk into a meeting with executives, dressed in my jeans and t-shirt and start cussing up a storm, are they going to listen to me. And granted, I get very heated and I get very upset about things that some management teams are doing.

And sometimes it does kind of slip out. But I know when I need to make an impression to actually influence people, to change their behaviors and change what they're doing, I need to be acting the part and acting the part does not mean showing up in jeans, in a safety vest, in a hard hat either. It means dressing professional, matching what that team is actually wearing, matching the language that that team is actually using, making sure that I'm communicating in a manner that they will understand it and that they like to have. One of my favorite questions is how do you

[00:10:00] want this information presented? So that way I present it in the manner that they like. And I will be taken a lot more seriously. I remember doing an episode quite a while back where I even said like, you should keep like a meeting attire maybe in your office.

I will never forget. I was actually at a corporate office, but I was coming from the airplane and I had these sneakers on and I had these leggings on and I sign in with reception and I had like maybe five minutes until my meeting. And there was a guy sitting there in the waiting area. And I said, Hey, how you doing?

I'm gonna leave my bag here for a second. I'll be right back. And I literally jumped into the bathroom and changed my leggings into my suit pants. And then I came out and I was holding my sneakers and I pulled my high heels out of my backpack. And I put my heels on. And I just kind of like took a moment to

[00:11:00] readdress myself. Like, I don't know what you would call it. I like to do like the Superman position, but I'm not gonna do that in front of somebody else. But I basically like stood tall, looked at myself over, took a deep breath and he just giggled, like you would not believe. And I'm like, Hey, I'm about to go in a meeting.

I cannot go in looking like I just was. And he, and he just shook his head cuz he knew, he knew. So I want you to think about that as you are now in your current position. If you were in your current position and you actually made this effort to act like the director of safety over multiple locations, even though you only have one, right?

Like you were so important because you make money for the company and you positively affect every other department and you walked in with that mannerism, matching their language, matching their dress, matching their communication style. What reaction would you get. Now, if this is brand new, you might get a really big reaction. Like, wow. You know,

[00:12:00] Brye's really stepped up our game, but wouldn't you be taken more seriously? Wouldn't you have more confidence. And what do you think would happen if you did this all the time and it was time for your annual review or a promotion came up, would you be considered, would you be referred right?

Would they give you a letter of recommendation more than likely they would compared to the safety leader who is just as intelligent, just as capable, just as competent, but they showed up in jeans, in a safety vest and a hard hat, and they let the F bomb slip every so often. Who are they going to recommend for that higher position?

So you always wanna make sure that you are acting like a leader. Now, I'm not telling you to wear a suit as you're going to the construction site, or you're walking into production,

[00:13:00] I'm saying match the audience that you are trying to influence. And when you're acting like a leader, you are always sharing your ideas and you are not afraid to speak up.

You do not respond to other people. You might be the first one that speaks up when your executive management team says, does anybody have any ideas you speak up? Now know that you belong in that room. That is another part that a lot of people have this imposter syndrome, that if they are in a room of a board of directors or they're in a room of executive management teams, they think they don't belong in that room.

They're not smart enough. They're not good enough. Let the big boys make the decision. That's above their pay grade. Know my safety friend. You belong in that room because you are the most important department in that entire organization, because you positively affect all the other departments

[00:14:00] and you should be part of every decision because every business decision is going to affect safety as well. I'm not saying that you make the decision, it's just, you should be consulted as well or informed. So that way you can do what you need to do to make their decision success. Now acting like a leader does not mean that you're just bossing people around the definition of leader is that they have followers.

So not slaves. We are looking to create people that follow us. This is why we wanna be an influencer. We don't want to just be a boss. Okay. And when you give sound advice, when you respect people, when you include them, when you have that confidence, people will follow. And you wanna be servant. You want to not be there to prop yourself up your work should be to prop others up, and then you will climb up with them. So if I go to an operations manager and I say,

[00:15:00] Hey, what can I help you with? What are you working on? And how can I take some of that off of you? How can I make your job easier? How can I prop up that manager? Because as they climb, you climb as well. So being a servant leader means that you're always putting others first and that you're being helpful, that you're not sitting there trying to find your opportunity to shine.

You will shine automatically. Okay. Now you can't just be servant. You can't just sit there and help other people without demonstrating your own leadership. So that means that yes, you do need to speak up and share your improvement ideas. You do need to show the value that you're providing to the company.

I know you are the most important department. You know, you make money for the company, but nobody else realizes how much your department affects their business. So it is up to you to show that value and to demonstrate how safety is affecting that bottom line.

[00:16:00] So it's up to you to self safety. And for me, one of the most effective ways to sell safety is just to show my passion for my work.

I know that I hear this comment a lot is how passionate I am about safety. And I am, I'm extremely passionate about safety. I was a safety manager before I even knew it was a thing. I was a safety manager in high school when people were asking me to go skiing. And I was like, no, there are five different breaks that can only happen when you're skiing.

And I don't wanna break my legs. So I know irrational, but still, that was my thinking, even as a teenager, but let your passion for your work show. And another way that you can walk the walk and show that you are part of the team is to show pride for the company. So I had this operations manager that religiously wore company, logoed materials, like his uniform for work. He didn't have a uniform.

[00:17:00] He was a vice president of operations. So typically the uniform would be like a button down shirt and a blazer. Right. But no, he literally always wore something that had a logo. If you just wearing a polo shirt, had a logo for the company. If you wore a blazer, he had a little Appel pin that had the company logo on it, his briefcase, his lunch box, his coffee mug, everything he did was logoed for the company.

And when I asked him for that, he goes, this shows pride in the company. And when you have pride in your work, it actually displays in your interactions with your employees as well as other people. Why not boost the brand of the company. So once he said that to me, it actually shifted in my mind because for the longest time, I always believed that the company should be buying this merchandise for me.

If they want me to promote their brand, then they should be buying it for me. And that little shift actually changed how I interacted with employees because then I changed my dress.

[00:18:00] I changed my attitude and then the interaction with employees and supervisors and managers actually changed too, because I was showing pride for the company that I worked for.

Everybody knew everything I was doing was to prop up that company. Right. So when you look at your CEO and that company windbreaker or drinking that company mug don't think that he waited around for somebody to hand it to him. Too often we are sitting back waiting for our company to pay for stuff for us.

That's what our salaries are for. Okay. So for you to be good at your job for you to propel your career forward, these are the steps that you need to take. You need to be an example in leadership. And these things are not just for executives. This starts when you are even at that low level. So if you want to be at that higher level, it is time to start portraying that role. Too often we accept the position that we're in.

[00:19:00] And then we portray the role that we were given. You were given the role of a safety coordinator. You were given the role of a safety specialist. I'm just gonna stay in my lane and I'm not going to step out of bounds cuz I'll get in trouble or I'll lose my job.

That is not true. I mean, I can't control whether or not you lose your job, but when you stay in your lane, you're thinking small and you're going to end up not gaining the skills you need to actually move into the fast lane. move into. Let's keep that theme going to move into. You know the highway to get you to that dream job that you eventually wanna get.

You don't wanna stay as a specialist or coordinator, or even, maybe you don't wanna stay in the manager level forever. Maybe you want to have that 150 K salary with multiple locations and the stress that comes from working at a corporate office. So it all starts with thinking. That you should be sitting at that table. Not that you have

[00:20:00] to stay in your lane. So instead of waiting for somebody to give you that title, that you're wanting, just start acting like you already have it take on the responsibilities. Like you already have it. You may have to go outside your comfort zone in order to do this. And you might also have to be ready to explain why you should be included.

That comes with knowing how to talk like an executive, how to show the value that you provide. And that's something that we will definitely talk about. So that's what I have for you today. My safety friend, I really hope that you take this to heart. I know it isn't necessarily a safety topic, but it is definitely something that I want you to be thinking about.

Don't portray the role that you currently have always portray the role that you want to have. All right. I will catch you next time. Bye for now.

[00:21:00] Hey, if you're just getting started in safety or you've been at this for a while and are hitting a roadblock, then I wanna invite you to check out safety management academy. This is my in depth online course that not only teaches you the processes and strategies of an effective safety management program, but how to entwine management support and employee participation throughout your processes.

Are you ready to finally understand exactly what you should be doing and ditch that safety police hat forever. Then you have got to join me and your fellow safety scholars over at safety management academy. Just go to to learn more and to get started. That's and I will see you in our next students only live session.

Bye for now.[00:22:00]

Highlights From This Episode:

  • Effective Ways to Portray Your Professional Role
  • How to Excel as a Safety Manager
  • Ways to Establish the Foundation of Your Career
  • Tips on Safety Career Advancement
  • Why Safety is One of the Most Important Department
  • Build your Confidence as a Safety Leader

Links Mentioned:


I hope that you gain more knowledge and confidence in this podcast. One of my goals is to help you show your full potential as a Safety Manager.

Share your experience on how you propel your career advancement. I love to hear about all your achievement. Comment them below!

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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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