“Emotional Safety is Key in Dealing with any Strategic Moment”
The nuclear community has been one of the safest and lowest-risk industries in the world, allowing it to compete in a crowded energy sector without compromise. This defining ethos is predicated on strong, emotionally safe cultures that have enabled the nuclear power sector to honestly and transparently learn from notable mistakes, such as the design flaws that led to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident, resulting in a safer, more competitive industry.
No industry, however, can rest on its reputation. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed new vulnerabilities, requiring companies throughout every industry to prioritize emotional safety alongside physical safety. As nuclear evolves to meet the next challenge, it serves as a model for diverse companies to mindfully consider the high standard this industry has established regarding safety culture—a newly essential ingredient in our post-pandemic work world.
When powered by facilitative leadership—a toolset used at several nuclear power stations— companies can develop observable and repeatable leadership behaviors that bring out the best in employees while improving overall performance. Facilitative leadership is about aligning people in the same direction so that they can achieve a shared goal. What makes it different from the other forms of leadership is the involvement of others at the decision-making stage.
Edward Halpin is owner and chief executive officer of leadership consulting company HLI Inc. He previously worked in leadership positions at Pacific Gas & Electric and the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company.
Michael J. Reidy is a senior consultant at leadership and collaboration firm Interaction Associates and has supported clients including Baltimore Gas & Electric (Calvert Cliffs Nuclear) and Curtiss-Wright Flow Control.