Leadership & Psychological Safety

20 July 21

The subject of “psychological safety” has arguably never been more popular in organisation & leadership development. It is defined by Professor Amy Edmondson of Harvard as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes”.

It is primarily talked about in relation to how important it has become as we move through the pandemic that organisations create an environment in which everyone feels welcome to make suggestions, admit when they don’t know something or be prepared to say when they have made a mistake so that they can innovate together towards a better future.

Although not described as such, if you were paying attention to the way that many commentators talked about Gareth Southgate’s successful managerial strategy in the early and middle stages of the 2021 European Championships – as one of encouraging the team to experiment, be themselves, not be distracted by fear of failure, trust and respect each other – you’ll have been learning all about psychological safety there. It is argued that the reason England didn’t win in the end is because Southgate lost his nerve in allowing players this freedom and reverted to the status quo of playing it safe, which eventually cost the team dear.

Our latest thought piece looks in more depth at psychological safety and how it can and must be embedded in organisations by their leaders.