Individuals engaged in the HSE profession have a certain body of knowledge concerning the technical competencies they need in order to execute their roles. However, a critical and often lacking piece is the essential leadership competencies that HSE practitioners need in order to ensure they are seen as effective contributors to the overall business. It is these characteristics and traits that allow HSE professionals to make more positive and definitive contributions to their organizations and be viewed in a manner that lifts all members of the profession. These critical leadership skills must be displayed on a consistent basis so HSE professionals can be seen as business leaders capable of successfully operating throughout the organization in the attainment of its goals.

What Is Leadership

If you were to ask anyone to define leadership you would most likely receive as many definitions about this term as the number of people you asked. Each year there are more than 2000 books written on leadership and while there are many reasons for this, I contend that at its core, like many things in life, there are many ways to solve a problem and no one best way of looking at any concern. Rather to the extent that we understand that different people have different ways of connecting with and executing upon the things that resonate with them, it behooves us to make our approaches at connecting with others flexible to meet differing individual needs. For our purposes, I will simplify leadership as taking action when it is called for that provides the most benefits for the greater good.

Understanding What Makes Leadership Essential

If you work off of the premise that leadership is a function of taking action when it is called for that provides the most benefits for the greater good then the next issue you might encounter is trying to understand what makes leadership essential. When you think about leadership, it is about action and while most of us know what to do (e.g. the responsibilities of our role) we sometimes are unclear about when to execute those roles, especially when it might present a conflict situation with others. This fact is even more complicated when those others are either people we don't have functional authority over (e.g. we do not manage them) or they have functional authority over us such as our managers or managers in another department.

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