Safety Leadership - Leadership Principles on the ASP and CSP Exams

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February 8, 2023
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Patrick J. Karol,

The Certified Safety Professional (CSP) exam covers many topics. From chemistry concepts to causal factors analyses. One area easily overlooked when preparing for the CSP exam is management and leadership theories. More specifically, how to influence employee behaviors. Safety professionals are often well-versed in the technical aspect of safety but lack the knowledge to answer these questions. Here are some related terms and principles you are likely to see on both exams.

Accountability – Accountability can take many forms. Current management theory holds that immediate and positive feedback and recognizing the preferred behaviors are effective forms of accountability. Too often, our feedback is after the fact; however, the most effective is soon, certain and positive.

Motivation-Hygiene Theory – Frederick Herzberg championed the Two-Factor model of motivation (aka motivation-hygiene theory). According to Herzberg, motivation can be divided into two major categories: hygiene and motivation factors. Hygiene factors affect our level of dissatisfaction but are rarely noted as creators of job satisfaction. However, if these factors are not present or satisfied, they can demotivate a person. A good example of a hygiene factor is salary. We may be satisfied with our salary but not be motivated to do more. If we feel that our salary is inadequate, it may motivate us to find another job. An example of a motivation factor is recognition. Being recognized for our contributions or accomplishments will motivate us to do more. Other examples of motivation factors include advancement or promotion, responsibility, and an opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

Theory X and Theory Y – Douglas McGregor, a social psychologist, developed two contrasting theories explaining managers’ beliefs about what motivates workers. Theory X essentially says employees are lazy and must be motivated to work. A Theory X manager believes in the carrot-and-stick approach and uses command and control, close supervision, external rewards, and penalties to motivate employees. Theory Y essentially says employees are self-motivated. A Theory Y manager relies on improving job satisfaction and recognition and providing opportunities to progress to motivate employees. Management use of Theories X and Y can affect employee motivation and productivity in different ways, and managers may choose to implement strategies from both theories into the practices.

Other theories and terms you want to be familiar with include The Management Grid by Robert Blake and James Mouton and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

 Need help? Nito Solutions offers ASP, CSP, and Math Guidebooks that include practice tests. Click on Exam Materials for more information.


Good luck with the exam!