Developing positive leadership behaviours

On the 30th December 1986 the UK Government announced that 200 Canary birds were to be gradually phased out of Britain’s mining pits. Modern technology had become favoured over the long serving yellow, feathered friend of the miner in detecting harmful gases, which may be present underground.

Any sign of distress from the canary was a clear signal the conditions underground were unsafe. They became engrained in mining culture, with miners owing their lives to the bird’s ability to detect colourless, odourless and tasteless toxic gases.

It is not just in the mining industry where crisis can lurk under the surface. Large organisations also have the potential to allow toxicity to go undetected within their systems thereby incubating a potential crisis. This incubation period is influenced by leadership behaviours.

The Deepwater Horizon Study Group investigating the explosion on board the drilling vessel found that organisational failures contributed significantly to the blowout,

“Conscience recognition of possible failure consequences seemingly never surfaced as the needle on the real-time risk-meter continued to climb.”

As a leader, your behaviours influence those around you, and that in turn influences the culture of the organisation. There is an alternative to crisis incubation. By developing key behaviours you will promote resilience and positively influence the culture of your organisation.

At TOWARD we have developed a digital ‘Canary’ in the form of an online psychometric test measuring 6 such behaviours. By taking the Canary, leaders like the miners, are made aware of potentially unsafe conditions within the organisation.

The miners embraced something that was cumbersome, uncomfortable to carry and awkward to work around, but owed their lives to it. Are you prepared to embrace behavioural change in your organisation and begin a journey that may feel a bit uncomfortable at first?

Ricky Drain