Have you ever had these thoughts that you believe that if you want something done right, you’d better do it yourself? Or have you refused to assign tasks because you are convinced doing so will ultimately require more of your time because you have to fix whatever mistakes someone else made?

As a Safety Leader, we mostly struggle to be a doer instead of leading people. There can be two problems going on here. First, you may be a control freak, and you think you’re the only one who can do it. And second is your managers and employees are not really stepping up and taking on the role of doing their part in it.

Management teams have a common misconception that the Safety Manager’s job is to “do safety.” The truth is, safety policies and procedures are most effective when the supervisors are the ones actually implementing, training, and enforcing.

In today’s episode, I will give you steps and advice to take and make the transition from Safety Doer to Safety Leader.


Don’t be the control freak! When someone else is doing something you know, you can do better, and they may not be doing it the way you would. They may miss-steps along the way. It might not be as polished or as nice as if you can do it. But if the end result is mostly the same, then you are good.

And then, on top of this, when you’re doing it all yourself, you’re not giving your team the chance to contribute, learn, grow, or help build a positive safety culture.


  1. Create positive relationships with the management team. 
  2. Have a clear understanding of accountability.
  3. Create processes that involve everybody.
  4. Include management from the beginning.

Take Action

Safety friends, to become better Safety Managers, I want you to stop being a control freak or not collaborating with your management and co-workers. Let’s make the transition effective by following the four steps and advice that I give you. Make sure to take notes of your progress and share it to people who also struggle with this.

#054 - How To Become a Safety Leader Instead of a Safety Doer

[00:00:00] If you are finding yourself to be the only one, doing safety as a task in your facility, this episode is for you. We're going to talk about how you make that transition of being a safety doer and having to do everything in safe yourself, to where safety is a team effort. And it's not all just on you .

Let's get started. This is safety Brye your number one safety geek . Why do we have the behaviors that we do superheroes in the workplace? Right? All of those things that go into making you an effective safety manager. I love what we do. Motivation learning, teaching, training, teamwork out over that. Just as much as I can safety.

Hello? Hello? Hello. My safety friends. Thank you so much for being here today. I am so glad to be back on the mic. I know I kind of disappeared

[00:01:00] again. So I'll tell you what happened in a quick and dirty version, because I feel like I had been whining about this for months and whining is definitely the perfect word in this situation.

So the last time I talked to you, I told you how I broke my tooth and I was in a lot of pain. What finally happened with that was the worst possible outcome to where I ended up losing the tooth, having to go through a bunch of dental surgery, but losing the tooth ended up causing me to wear a temporary denture, which is why you can't tell that I don't have a tooth right now.

When you see me on video, but that has affected my voice and my speaking and my articulation. And it made me very self-conscious. So it had a psychological effect on me as well. My next surgery isn't for like five or six weeks down the road. So I finally got myself over this hump, this mental hump that I have, and I got back on the mic. So if you are listening to this through your

[00:02:00] little earbuds, you might notice a change in my voice. And that is why it's a little bit less beer, but we only got about five or six weeks of it. And then I will be in the next stage of the process, which I can probably do away with this temporary denture.

So, welcome. Welcome. If you're new to the podcast. I'm sorry to start with all that drama. Welcome to the end of 2021. Can you believe we are only about two weeks to the end of this year. I am so ready to throw this year away. And it's kind of funny because when 2020 happened, we were all like, Ugh, just get rid of that year as the worst year ever.
And I started 2021. Super excited and ready to go. And all of these plans and goals and everything and what that only lasted a few months. And then everything just kind of went to heck and back again. Right? Hopefully we are on the downward trend of this just awful world that we're living through in the

[00:03:00] moment. Just kind of funny because when this all started, somebody asked me, they said, how long do you think this is going to last? And this was at the very beginning. It's just like the first week of March. Somebody asks me this of March of 2020. And I said two years, and I went by just the research from the flu of 1918 and you know, the Spanish flu and everything.

And it took about two years when something that bad goes through. So I hope that we are on that downward trend. We will see right? We will see, but here we are at the end of the year with a new year starting, and it is the absolute perfect time for you to be evaluating your program for setting goals for the new year.

And it's a perfect time to try, try to transition into the things that I will be talking about in today's episode, which is becoming the safety leader as opposed to the safety doer. So this question came in from Simon. So thank you very much Simon . Shout out to you for posting this in the

[00:04:00] community. If you are not a member of the safety geek community, you need to join and you will see a post right in the featured section that says it's a call-out for podcast topics.

I've gotten a lot of responses and that's basically what I'm going to be working through over the next several weeks to get out episodes about those topics. So what Simon says is that he needs help transitioning from the safety doer. So think like a coordinator to the safety manager, which is like casting a vision and having others execute it.

So I'm not sure if Simon is still struggling with this because he probably submitted this question in September before all of my drama, but I am happy to have a discussion around this because I absolutely love this topic too many times. We have. We have too much stuff on our plates and safety should be everybody's job.

And I know a lot of people struggle with this transition, and I really think that there are two problems going on here. One is

[00:05:00] that you're a control freak and you think that you're the only one who can do it. Or number two is your managers and employees are not really stepping up and taking on the role in doing their part in it.

So let's start with the easy one, which is to say that you're a control freak, and there's nothing wrong with that. I am a recovering control freak, so you need to learn to let it go. You need to just focus on the end result. So when someone else is doing something that, you know, you can do better, they may not be doing it the way that you would do it.
They may miss steps along the way. It might not be as polished or as nice as if you can do it. But if the end result is mostly the same, not exactly the same, but mostly the same, like 80% of the way there. Then you are good . So get rid of that perfectionism, get rid of that control freak, pass that task

[00:06:00] on to them, whether they are doing it exactly like you want or not.

So the way that I teach forklift operator training is way different than most people who teach it. I've actually never seen anybody teach it the way that I have. And I actually learned how to teach it from the national safety council. So like I'm following their model, but I've never seen anybody really do it, but if the way that I do it and the way that other people do it, if we're churning out safe and competent forklift operators, then it doesn't matter that it's different. It doesn't matter that it takes me four hours and takes them 90 minutes. If the end result is the same, that is all that matters.

Now you may be thinking that if you do it, it'll just be faster. I hear this a lot. It's so much faster and easier if I just do it instead of taking the time to teach somebody else to do it. And this is probably true, but in the big scheme of things, it is not true because if you're taking on and doing

[00:07:00] everything yourself, what ends up happening is.

You get overloaded. So it's not taking you less time. It's taking you more time because now you have more to do. And then on top of that, when you're doing it all yourself, you're not giving your team the chance to contribute or to learn or to grow or to help build that safety culture. So I'm feeling like that in itself could be an episode like talking about how to let things go.

And how to not do it all yourself and to stop being a control freak. But I don't think that wanting to do it all is the problem that most safety managers are facing. In fact, the reason why I like Simon's question is it's very similar to what drove me to create safety management academy. The problem that most safety managers face is that they want the frontline supervisors and the management team to do more.

And they want to be seen as themselves.

[00:08:00] As the subject matter expert, guiding them on how to do it, but they can't get their management team to do that. And this is the whole premise of safety management academy in SMA. I teach you how to entwine management support and employee engagement in the entire safety management cycle.
So that way your program is repeatable and that it improves month over month, over month. But Simon and everybody else, I'm not going to end it here and just say, go register for safety management academy@thesafetygeek.com forward slash S M A for your answer to this question, I am going to give you some actionable steps that can get you started.

So let's get into them. There are four steps that I want you to take to start improving, becoming that leader as opposed to a doer. First one is having positive

[00:09:00] relationships with your management team. Number two, understanding of accountability. Number three, have processes in place that put responsibility on everybody.
And number four is an approval and uproot. This is a hard one for me to say and approval. And communications, cadence around safety. I'm telling you, I'm glad to be back on the mic though. Okay. So let's break these down. Number one is making nice with your management team. This means your executives, your managers, your supervisors, really get to know them.

As people get to know what their goals are, what their priorities are that way. When you are trying to relate safety to them, you can really speak to what is important to them. We believe that reducing injuries and stopping accidents from happening should be important to them, but remember, there's a

[00:10:00] gap in their risk tolerance.
And your risk tolerance. So what you need to speak to instead is how safety helps them meet their goals and priorities. Make nice with them, get to know them, have some lunch with them. Do those types of things. Step number two. Have a clear chain of accountability. Now, most people don't understand how accountability works and I have a whole podcast episode about this and I will link to it in the show notes, but you have to have clear rules, clear training, clear consequences, and authority.

To administer those consequences. If you do not have authority, then you cannot have accountability. Okay. Because you can't give the consequences. So making sure that your team understands how accountability works, because I literally, this is the biggest problem that I see in most

[00:11:00] organizations is they like, oh, I've got to hold people accountable.

Well, I can't hold people accountable. I have no authority over them. They don't understand that that is one of the key things, and this is why your frontline supervisors should be doing it. Alrighty. Number three, when you were creating processes are in your safety program, you need to spread the love. You want to make sure that your name is not on everything.
You know, it is your job to create the resources to train, to audit. But if you are putting yourself down as the doer, then you are lacking an understanding of accountability. You can not implement a safety policy or a practice because you do not have authority. So if your management team is still requiring you to be the doer then they need some accountability training my friend, and actually give you those tips in SMA. But here

[00:12:00] you go. Let's say that I wanted to change the policy for footwear, right? And we never wore safety, toed shoes, but I wanted to have everybody wear safety, toed shoes. And I created a program. I created all the resources.

I got approval from my management team. And then I'm the one that implemented it. I went out to the employees, I trained them on it. I told them what the policy is. And I did all those things. That's going to be a heck of a lot harder to get the employees to do it. Then if the supervisors implemented it, if the frontline supervisor told them, Hey, there's a new policy.
What does that do? One, it tells the employees that they agree with it, that they're going to enforce it, and that they're expected to do it. And here are the rules that you have to follow. The supervisor is telling them that I'm expecting you to follow these rules. That's way different than a safety manager saying I'm expecting you to follow these rules because that employee doesn't report to

[00:13:00] you. They report to that frontline supervisor. That way, if there is any pushback, it's pushed back to the supervisors, not pushed back to you so, if you are still the one being the doer if I'm still out there, you know, implementing this policy and nobody's listening, what I'm dang going to do is keep a list of all of these issues that are arising, because I don't have a.
So that way, when it comes up that, Hey, you're not being an effective safety manager, I have my list, right. Or maybe at manager's meetings, I can bring it up at my annual review. I can bring it up or my quarterly review, whatever your company does and says, I cannot be effective because you're expecting me to be the doer when really it needs to be, I need to be the coach of the frontline supervisors.

Who are the doers? All right. Step number four, the most important part

[00:14:00] of management support for safety is that you need to include management in your ideation, your creation and your approval process. I call this the executive advisory committee and safety management academy because when they have a say in everything that you're asking the management team to do.

Then you have no problem implementing safety programs. Because when I go to that frontline supervisor and I say to them, we now have a new safety boot program that you need to implement, that you need to train on and that you need to enforce. They can't tell me no because their boss or their boss's boss.

In the process of the idea of the idea, the creation and approval. So if their boss already approved it, they can't push back on me.

[00:15:00] That is the whole idea of the executive advisory committee. So those are your four steps. My friend now let's recap because that was a lot of information number. You need to let go of control and embrace collaboration.
And I promise you, your culture will. Thank you. Number two, you need to build positive relationships with the management team, whether you like them or not, you need to start having lunch with them. Grab a cup of coffee, find out what their goals are. Number three, you need to have a clear understanding of accountability.
So go back and relisten to the accountability podcast. Number four, you need to create processes that involve everybody. You can't complain that you're doing everything. If your processes require you to do everything, spread the love, my friends, number five, you need to include management from the beginning.

In fact, you also need to include

[00:16:00] employees. And that's what I get into in SMA. And number six. You need to check out safety management academy to learn how to do this in every part of your of your program. And once again, your culture will. Thank you. So there you go. My safety friend, thank you so much, Simon, for submitting this question, it feels really good to get back on the mic.

And hopefully the voice isn't annoying you too much, or at least not annoying you as much as it is me and I will chat at you next week. Thank you. Have a great day.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • Steps on how to be an effective safety manager
  • How building a good relationship will help you become an efficient manager
  • Importance of accountability in a work environment
  • Importance of collaboration


Have you now thought about what to do from being a doer to an effective safety manager? What are your thoughts about the steps and advice that I give you? Please share it in the comments 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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