The Importance of Psychological Safety for Team Success

Be a leader who advocates physiological safety

Let’s start by exploring what is physiological safety.

The belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.

(definition by Professor Amy Edmonson).

Psychological safety

Psychological safety is a feature of the workplace that leaders must work hard to create. It takes effort, it does not normally create naturally but it is worth the effort.

Psychological Safety is a set of behaviours, and practices that must be embraced and experienced daily in the workplace. You can’t fake psychological safety at work. 

Psychological safety needs to be lived in an organisation across all levels because if its not the impacts to the working culture are severe including a lack of trust, back stabbing and talking about co’ workers festers. A lack of innovation and creativity will exist because team members are afraid to take risks and offer new or improved suggestions for how things could work due to fear of their suggestion being judged negatively. 

During my senior leadership career I didn’t always get it right when it came to creating physiological safety. One time really springs to mind when I think about this topic and I had to learn the hard way. I received feedback from a team member one day that she found me intense because I over questioned when she brought feedback. Over questioning is perceived as over challenging and, In an environment where someone feels they are being over questioned they do not feel safe. For safety to exist there needs to be a balance of trust, support and challenge.

Beacon

My own experience made me reflect and I came up with my approach for creating physiological safety for the teams that I guided over the years. My approach is called Beacon.

Build Trust

Trust is the glue to holds everything else together, Build Trust

Building trust is fundamental to create Psychological Safety, because Psychological Safety is essentially a component of positive human relationships. Focus on building trust by keeping your word and acting with integrity and fairness.

Encourage

Psychological Safety is a lot about encouragement. Encouraging people to speak up and out, to stand up, to take risks, to experiment, to step in. As a leader you have to encourage people to do this by reminding them that it is safe to do so in the team.

Appreciate

Appreciate the input and value that everyone in your team brings, appreciate them showing up and the individual contribution that they bring.

Appreciate people’s efforts and create a positive environment that invites people to bring up their ideas and thoughts. Reminding your team that we are all different.

Challenge

Challenging your team as a leader means that you increase the level of their performance for them to learn new skills, grow and remain engaged. As long as you challenge safely and offer support your team members will experience growth from being challenged.

Openness

You need to listen with an open mind. You must be open to feedback about your own leadership style and reassure people that they are safe in delivering this feedback. Act with maturity when getting feedback from your team. Appreciate the feedback. Be open to it. Feedback is a gift, remember there is no such thing as bad or good feedback there is only feedback.

Nurture

Nurture by providing support. As a supportive leader your team knows you have their back if they need to stretch themselves and take risks, you are there to guide them to accomplish their goals and set them up for success.

To be a leader who advocates psychological safety try including the following attributes into your way of working.

I love supporting female leaders just like you create psychological safety within their teams and create real impact.

Contact me today for a free discovery call

Lets see if we are a good fit to work together

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