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The LEAD model

The LEAD model brings together many different theories of safety leadership into one practical framework that you can apply in your place of work. It describes the specific skills you'll need for different work situations.

Diagram showing the four safety leadership styles

Developed by the Office of Industrial Relations, Curtin University and the University of Queensland, the LEAD model offers organisations an evidenced-based approach to measuring, understanding and improving safety culture.

An effective safety leader will:

  1. leverage—provide clarity and fairness
  2. energise—provide meaning and purpose
  3. adapt—learn from mistakes and improve
  4. defend—be vigilant and manage work health and safety risks.

Work can be sorted into four different situations:

  1. getting things done
  2. pursuing opportunities
  3. learning from mistakes
  4. managing risks.

The LEAD model encourages us to be flexible and adaptable with our safety leadership—adopting the best mode of safety leadership for each work situation.

  1. Leverage is used when getting things done.
  2. Energise is used when pursuing opportunities.
  3. Adapt is used when learning from mistakes and failures.
  4. Defend is used when performing high risk work.

Safety goals

The LEAD model gives four ways that leaders can frame safety goals:

  • either stability or flexibility
  • either prospect or protect.

Flexibility—encourage your team to accept responsibility and ownership for work health and safety. Support them when they voice concerns, share ideas, and accept safety duties.

Stability—when work is routine and hazards are well known, you should use behaviours that promote stability within your team.

Prospering—set specific objectives for your team to strive to achieve, and recognise or reward your team when they achieve a positive
safety outcome.

Protection—focus on preventing negative outcomes by highlighting risk, implementing controls and avoiding risk taking.

How to use the LEAD model

The LEAD model is based on the idea that leaders can frame safety goals in different ways depending on the situation, and that this can have a positive affect on workers' behaviours.

For example, when hazards are well-known, the situation is predictable, and the focus is on getting work done, leaders should:

  • set specific safety goals to strive towards
  • recognise workers’ progression towards these
  • encourage effective communication and coordination among the team.

We've developed a toolkit, workbook, workshop and survey to help you apply the LEAD framework in your place of work.

The LEAD safety culture toolkit provides support when implementing the LEAD model in your place of work.

The toolkit provides a suite of resources including:

  • an online survey and dashboard
  • a facilitation guide for trainers on how to implement the LEAD model (currently under development)
  • training content for supervisors, managers and workers (currently under development)

View the toolkit.

Work through this resource to develop an understanding of the LEAD model and safety leadership and to learn new skills and concepts to apply at work. The workbook is aimed at frontline safety leaders and workers in informal leadership roles or seeking promotion.

LEADing for Frontline Safety Self-Paced Workbook (PDF, 3.43 MB)

Small business owners have a vital role to play when it comes to leading safety. A positive safety culture can help small business owners avoid costly incidents and injuries, minimise productivity disruptions and reduce overheads.

Safety leadership in small business fact sheet (PDF, 0.47 MB)

Join the program for free and learn how to influence and build a positive safety culture through:

  • webinars, forums and safety leadership events - receive special membership rates!
  • films, benchmarking tools and case studies
  • updates on leading industry practices
  • direct access to business leaders to apply their learnings directly to your own business
  • networking opportunities to explore solutions to common issues and influence your industry's safety culture.