Psychological safety in Teams


Nobody ever comes up with a brilliant idea while they’re being chased by a lion” – Mark Nathan, CEO of Zipari.

A healthy organization is one that is not just physically but emotionally safe too. One where you can bring your true selves to work every day. If your day job entails innovation, know that it does not thrive in a climate of fear and suspicion. As you experiment with ideas in solving complex problems for your customers, imagine having an open environment where you can admit you “screwed up”, share your learnings and ask for help. A culture where curiosity can breed. Open debates focus on judging ideas and not the individuals behind it.

We know that Trust is essential in a team. Its the staple dish. And psychological safety is the secret sauce to this recipe. Here’s how Team Leaders can do their bit to bake it into the team culture.

1.     Evaluate and Reflect. Wear the team’s shoes. Assess and reflect on their worries. Will I be embarrassed? Will I regret my experience? Will it harm my credibility? Will I be punished for admitting a mistake? Will I be scorned at for offering a new idea? Can I share my views without fear? Will I be punished for raising concerns?

2.     Respond to and Respect opinions. Acknowledge inputs. Ask for clarifications. Drive decisions. Assure and reassure. Do not choose to NOT respond or brush aside comments.

3.     Lead by Example. Believe in and exercise the power of vulnerable leadership. Be willing to admit your mistakes and forgive other’s.

4.     Build into Team charter. Promote respect, not just productivity. Cultivate trust, not just efficiency. Encourage free trade of ideas. Encourage healthy dialogues. Celebrate candor.

5.     Always Move Forward. Champion the culture of collective learning, not just meeting milestones. “By creating a Circle of Safety around the people in the organization, leadership reduces the threats people feel inside the group, which frees them up to focus more time and energy to protect the organization from the constant dangers outside and seize the big opportunities.” ~ Simon Sinek

The team lasts longer than its successes. Its spirit does. And it requires every member to be and feel at home, always. It requires every member to Stay Safe. In every sense of the word.

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