The Normalization of Deviance in the Oil and Gas Industry: The Role of Rig Leadership in Success and Failure

The normalization of deviance is a major organizational cultural issue that is modeled and enabled by poor leadership and filters down through the organization with disastrous consequences for safety and operations.

Culture has been shown to create the circumstances that result in safety problems ranging from near misses to major catastrophe because of failures in operations integrity, specifically process safety. The organizational culture is also responsible for the level of productivity, of effectiveness and efficiency.

A major factor in operations integrity and in productivity is employee engagement. In turn, a transformational leadership style has been shown to be the most effective approach in developing an engaged workforce and a positive work culture, including in oil and gas installations.

This paper discusses these issues and, in particular, the role of leaders in developing a safe and productive work environment in drilling operations. Finally, it provides a solution to the question of how to develop effective leaders that involves talent recognition, effective recruitment, effective performance management, and training and coaching interventions across all three of these areas.

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