Wal-Mart Frank: Are you a food safety manager or a food safety leader?

There goes WalMart Frank again, hammering home the need for food safety leaders and that culture thing.

Frank Yiannas, vice president – food safety, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. writes in the latest Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) newsletter that management and leadership are different. A manager’s job is to oversee and optimize organizational processes to deliver results. A leader’s job is to change the process to deliver even greater results.

Frank says one term (management or leadership) is not inferior or superior to the other. They’re just different: and the food safety world need both; — good food safety management and more food safety leadership — as they are both critical to protecting public health.

• Food safety management focuses on the administration of set procedures within an established risk management system; food safety leadership focuses on the creation of new, science-based, and more effective risk reduction strategies, models, and processes. This quote by Stephen Covey illustrates this point quote well. He said, “Management works in the system; leadership works on the system.”

• Food safety management relies on formal authority to accomplish its objectives; food safety leadership relies on the ability to influence others to achieve success. Traditionally, food safety managers coerce others to comply because they have authority over them or their operation. In other words, they get others to comply by holding people and organizations accountable. Food safety leaders, in contrast, get others to do the right thing not because they’re being held accountable, but because they’ve been able to influence them to want to do so. They help others become responsible for food safety – not just accountable for food safety. There is a big difference between the two.

• Food safety management involves working with others based on functional roles; food safety leadership involves working with others in a collaborative manner. Food safety managers work with others in traditional ways to accomplish their objectives. Often times, whether visible or not, they’re protecting their organization’s interests whether it be academia, regulatory, or industry. In contrast, food safety leaders seek genuine win-win solutions for all stakeholders. They recognize they can do more to advance food safety by working constructively with others than by working alone.