How the mindsets of leaders shape their organization’s safety culture


Annika Heumüller
When companies reach the stage where people are the key enabler for advancing the HSE culture, leaders often struggle to influence behaviors and mindsets that make a difference. At this stage, the focus shifts from compliance-based safety to proactive safety, where employees are empowered to identify and manage risks. This requires a change in attitudes and behaviors, which can be challenging to achieve, especially in organizations where safety has not been a core value. What type of mindset is mostly present and perceived in your surroundings? What are the impact on the safety culture and performance?

Safety Leadership Mindsets

In his dissertational research, Victor Roggeveen (2022) identified four safety leadership mindsets that have different impact on the safety of an organization.

    • Production-oriented leaders prioritise meeting production targets. They tend to take intuitive decisions and behave in a decisive, courageous manner. However their focus on productivity may compromise the safety of their fellow workers.
    • Relation-oriented leaders possess good listening skills and foster a positive workplace climate through compassion and empathy. However, their laid-back approach may make it difficult to distinguish them from their fellow workers, which could result in a lack of clear leadership and accountability.
    • Dominance-oriented leaders have a fixed mindset and exhibit a more self-centered, authoritarian behavior. They may let their workers stumble and endanger their colleagues’ safety.
    • Growth-oriented leaders show supportive, motivating behavior that prioritises qualitative goals, development, and learning. They walk beside their workers and create a safe working climate through their focus on growth and continuous improvement.

Many leaders have a little bit of each of the four mindsets. That’s totally human! It’s not black or white, but a lot of colors in between. The key is to know which mindset you as a leader currently most embody and how to enable a Growth Mindset to best support your employees in workplace safety! Are you interested in knowing what type of mindset is mostly present and perceived in your surroundings? How to cultivate the Growth Mindset for better HSE culture? Stay tuned – we have great news coming!


As experts in behavioral and HSE culture change, InTense is a trusted partner when companies want to help their people be the key enabler for higher safety performance.  Our conviction and intervention have always been to go deeper to understand and transform people behaviorally and in their mindset, thus making a more lasting impact.



Roggeveen, V. (2022). The influence of leadership on the prevention of safety incidents: On risk reduction, leadership, safety principles and practices. Dual PhD Centre, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University.