3 tips to boost psychological safety as a leader

Psychological safety (the belief that the context is safe for interpersonal risk taking) is mainly built through leadership. But how to adapt your behaviour to enhance the psychological safety of your team?

Here are the top three tips:

  1. Make it explicit that failure or uncertainty is normal and part of the job. For example, do you work in a creative and innovative environment and you do not want your team to hold back ideas when brainstorming because they are afraid of looking stupid? Amplify that in order to come up with the winning, out of the box idea it’s normal to first come up with many unsuitable ideas. Or would you like your team members to be comfortable pointing out a mistake you made instead of keeping quiet because of fear of reprisal when telling you? Make it explicit that you sometimes make mistakes and you need your team to help identify them.
  2. Make sure the team knows participation is welcome and needed for team success. Setting up a structure for participation helps. Think of monthly meetings with the sole purpose of employees participation. A great example is Pixar’s Braintrust. Braintrust is a recurring meeting where the clear and only goal is to give honest feedback about the upcoming Pixar movie. Pixar developed this tool because, as they say themselves: in the beginning all their movies suck. The candid feedback is what makes them go ‘’from suck to not-suck’’. 
  3. And lastly: respond appreciatively when a team member comes up with an idea, gives feedback or asks a question. This ensures that the team knows it’s not something that will be held against them now or in the future.

Would you like to know more about increasing psychological safety in your team or organization though leadership behaviour? Contact our experts: Leonie Arkesteijn (l.arkesteijn@samhoud.com), Roosmaryn Spliet (r.spliet@samhoud.com) or Koen Husmann (k.husmann@samhoud.com).

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