Leading the leaders: Michelle Henderson
Michelle Henderson was named ‘Leader of the Year’ at the 2019 annual Safeguard awards. We spoke to the COO at PowerNet about her safety leadership style and a unique initiative she’s led to lift leadership capability within the organisation.
Coaching by kilometre
There was already a strong safety leadership focus at PowerNet but Michelle wanted to lift the pace of improvements in health and safety, especially to the frontline.
“One week every two months my distribution manager and I would travel to our field depots for site visits and team briefings. We recognised there were opportunities to extend this experience to other frontline leaders and to lift leadership capability across the board. We thought, wouldn’t it be great for our frontline leaders to see what we see during these visits?”
PowerNet has now put 25 out of 37 of its frontline leaders through Coaching by Kilometre, and it’s continuing to grow.
The results speak for themselves
“It’s not just an opportunity to see other teams and depots in action, but we spend many hours in the car travelling – providing another layer of leadership coaching. It means every leaders’ observation and experience is valued, whatever their level in the business. It is essentially safety coaching beyond the classroom – a form of free, internal vocational training,” says Michelle.
Since implementing the programme, PowerNet’s LTI severity rate has dropped from 200 days lost in October 2016 to 70 as of March 2019. As well as that frontline leaders have reported it as "the best on the job training they've ever had."
Michelle's tips for leading your leaders
- Maximise your time in the field by including your frontline leaders or contractors, and at the same time lift leadership in health and safety across the company
- Ask them – do you see what I see here? Provide them with a different perspective
- The absolute core is care. Everything comes back to that. If you care enough, you’ll get to the right point.