Features

IOSH 2016 Conference Preview

We interview two speakers from the institution’s June gathering. 
 

Image credit: © iStockphoto/rihardzz

Dr Shaun Lundy: Academic portfolio leader, Department of Built Environment, University of Greenwich

What are you speaking about at IOSH 2016?

I will be looking at how an understanding of followership is vital for successful interventions and initiatives in safety and health.

Why should people attend your presentation?

The subject of followership is gaining interest among academics and practitioners. Leadership is a hot topic in safety and health at the moment, and with good reason. Making sure everyone is with you on the journey to reducing accidents and improving health and wellbeing is vital if you are to be effective in your role. As safety and health professionals, we are all leaders to a greater or lesser extent, so an understanding of leadership should be part of our education in addition to all of the technical things we often focus on.

Leadership is probably one of the most written-about concepts in business management; a simple Google search will bring up hundreds of thousands of hits on the subject, listing research, books and so-called management gurus telling you how to be an effective leader and get employees on your side. But what about the followers?

What is followership?

Followership is simply the study of followers and the reciprocal relationship they have with the leaders. Leadership is often thought about as being either transactional, a one-way command and control approach, or transformational, where the leader takes willing participants on a journey of change.  

Understanding our followers is the first step to effective leadership because without the consent of the followers there are no leaders. Being an effective follower is perhaps as important as being a good leader; one cannot exist without the other. I’ll explore this relationship in safety and health practice, identifying what it means to be a good follower and how to adapt your leadership style to both the situational needs and the follower types in your organisation.

Why are followers important?

Leaders often get all the credit but it’s those first followers that we need to nurture and reward if we are to achieve real risk reduction.

Followers can no longer be seen as an amorphous group, all the same and simply there to be told what to do. The modern workforce is a sophisticated mix, often well informed with employees generally having a strong influence on each other.

Employees can make choices to do the bare minimum or go that extra mile, including inspiring others to action. A better understanding of followership can be the first step towards making the extra effort.


Tracey Ayton Harding: Head of health and safety (national officer), Unison

What are you speaking about at IOSH 2016?

I’ll use case studies and examples to show how innovation and trade union engagement is key to improving and maintaining safety and health standards, which in turn results in a positive impact on businesses.

Why should people attend your presentation?

The presentation aims to spark new ways of thinking to encourage collaboration between employers and employee representatives with regard to safety and health in the workplace.

The audience will be a mix of international employers, employees, employee representatives and influential bodies. These people are all instrumental in moving forward the safety and health agenda and in setting the pace at which it moves.

Why is innovation important when it comes to health and safety standards?

Health and safety tends to have a bit of a bad reputation, with outdated notions of officials with clipboards. But the reality is far removed from that.

Trade union health and safety representatives in the workplace are as well-educated and supported as they have ever been. It is crucial that they are included in discussions whenever changes to practices that have an impact on safety and health arise.

Their vast knowledge of the places in which they work could prove invaluable and they are always full of innovative ideas which can help in deciding on new measures that can work in fast-changing environments. I hope some of the examples I use will give conference delegates some innovative ideas of their own.

The conference theme is influential leadership. What does influential leadership mean to you?

The UK has long been at the forefront of health and safety management and we would encourage other countries to think of the best ways to improve workplace safety and health.

Influential leadership is key to this. Influential leaders can play a role in ensuring health and safety management systems become part of the core of an organisation. True leaders have the vision to use the tools they have, such as worker involvement and international standards. By using these tools they can provide safe and healthy workplaces for all employees, something we are all striving for.

 

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