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How Do Leaders Create an Environment of Psychological Safety?


What is psychological safety?

Psychological safety is a feeling of being accepted and supported. It allows people to take risks, express themselves freely, learn from failure and grow as individuals.

When people feel safe, they can be themselves.

So they’re likely to be more open, honest, and authentic in their interactions with others.

Their creativity flourishes and they are able to innovate and achieve results beyond what is possible when people are afraid of failure or making mistakes.

Psychological safety is essential for organizations that want to innovate, adapt quickly and make decisions in complex environments.

What is the cost of not having a psychologically safe workplace?

  • Increased stress, fatigue, and burnout

  • High turnover rates

  • New hires with lower retention rates

  • Decreased productivity and innovation

  • Frustration and anger, conflicts between employees

  • A lack of trust and transparency

How do we create a culture of psychological safety?

Promote self-awareness.

You can help your team become more self-aware by encouraging them to take a step back and look at their actions with an objective eye. Ask them to reflect on their actions: what they did well, what they could improve upon, and how they want to be perceived by others.

This will allow people to see themselves from an outside perspective so that they can gain some insight into their behavior.

When you can get people to be self-aware, it becomes easier for them to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, which makes it much easier for them to work on improving their performance.

Create a culture of appreciation.

Show your team you appreciate them, and encourage them to show their appreciation for each other. This can be done through simple gestures such as thanking them for their hard work or celebrating achievements together. Praise when it's due.

Facilitate and encourage everyone to speak up - encourage diverse perspectives.

When people know they have the freedom to say what they're thinking, they are more likely to share their ideas and opinions, creating a greater diversity of perspectives.

Encouraging this kind of open communication will help your team make better decisions, which will lead to better results.

Normalize vulnerability.

Be a role model and share what’s going on in your life, including successes and failures.

Let them know it's safe to share.

Be a servant leader.

Focus on the needs of your people. Do what’s best for the organization, not your ego.

Avoid blame and criticism.

Instead, focus on learning from mistakes and successes so that everyone can improve their performance.

Encourage risk-taking, and create a safe environment for failure.

Give your team space to make mistakes.

And when you do, be sure you have a culture of learning in place, where failure is not punished. Moreover, make sure your team knows that mistakes are an essential part of the process and will help them grow as individuals.

Develop a shared sense of purpose.

Let employees know how they can make a difference in the organization’s mission and how it aligns with their personal values.

Demonstrate concern for your people.

The best leaders are able to see the people on their team as people, not just employees.

They take an interest in their lives and care about what happens outside of work because they know that this is what makes them better at their jobs.

You can show your concern for your team by asking how things are going outside of work or by listening when someone tells you about something important that's happening in their lives.

At the end of the day, we all want to feel a sense of belonging, a sense of safety, and a feeling that what matters to us will be supported. Our role as leaders is to help the team to work safely, productively, and effectively.



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