Late August always makes me think about the imminent return to school. Whether I was 13, 33 or 53, it’s always carried that energy. I remember always thinking ahead: “I wonder what Ms. X or Mr. Z will be like?”
When I think about those days, I realise that part of what I was wondering about was how safe I would feel in the year ahead. We asked this question when we were kids returning to school, and we still ask it now as we constantly assess our workplaces. In short, we wonder how psychologically safe we can expect to be in a given environment.
The importance of psychological safety for collaboration is at the heart of Amy Edmondson’s work. At it’s most simple, psychological safety is about these four questions:
- Can I show up as I am?
- Can I make mistakes?
- Is my contribution valued?
- Can I challenge the status quo?
If I can answer yes to these questions, I will show up fully. If it’s a no to some questions, then I am going to hide part of me, hold back, and not contribute fully. Listen to Amy Edmundson why this matters:
What to expect
Amy Edmondson coined the term psychological safety. And in this podcast she lays out what it is and what it isn’t. With great examples, she highlights the commercial impact of what happens when organisations get it right – and when they get it wrong. She also highlights the role that strong leadership plays in creating a safe work environment.
What we love about it
Amy connects the dots. She makes the case that leadership that does not create psychological safety is in fact working against an organisation’s goals.
Why it matters to leadership in organisations
Psychological safety is tied to innovation and creativity. It’s crucial for the attraction and retention of talent. It directly impacts productivity and profitability. A team or organisation with low levels of safety likely has low levels of diversity: of thought, of experiences, or of ethnicity. They likely have a non-inclusive culture, and lower levels of employee engagement.
Unless you want to run an unsuccessful organisation, you will strive to build meaningful psychological safety for all of your employees.