Ivor Smith

Ivor Smith

Every year, flocks of starlings create a beautiful, baffling ballet in the air. They swirl and swoop in their hundreds and thousands, creating spectacular undulating shapes. It’s called a murmuration, and it’s one of nature’s most remarkable and puzzling sights.

Puzzling because we wonder how they know when to change direction and how they keep such a tight formation.

A study in Rome discovered that every bird copied its direction only from its closest neighbours, no matter how tightly packed they were.

In other words, when one bird decides to change direction, those immediately around it change; those immediately around them then change, and so on, creating an incredible, rippling mass of birds.

There is no appointed leader but when one bird takes the lead, the others follow.

This is a great analogy for how one person, regardless of position, can make a difference in developing a positive safety culture.

Safety leadership is a behaviour, not a position.

Anyone in a team or organisation can and should be a safety leader. If one person leads by example – shows genuine care for their colleagues and themselves, displaying positive safety behaviours and attitude – they will influence those around them. They, in turn, will influence those around them, creating a safety murmuration.

It may sound simple and that’s because it is - we influence those around us, whether we’re conscious of it or not.

This has never been more important than it is now. The only way we can keep our family, friends and colleagues safe in the midst of the coronavirus crisis is by being safety leaders, by following the guidelines set out for us, and being positive role models to all those around us.

Be kind, be safe, murmurate.