Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Leaders, here’s how you may be the obstacle to your team’s psychological safety

According to new research, toxic work culture was the single biggest predictor of attrition during the first six months of The Great Resignation.

Psychological safety is clearly no longer just a ‘nice to have’, but an essential.

Besides the extreme of toxic work cultures, though, many leaders make lots of micro-moves every day that — unbeknownst to them — erode psychological safety. The climate in their teams may not be poisonous, but it’s not exactly safe either.

When an individual or group is struggling or suffering, leaders tend to automatically:

  • Offer solutions or advice
  • Try to cheer people up or make things ‘nice’ again
  • Step over or ignore difficult emotions
  • Quickly move towards a resolution

Sometimes, these behaviours are helpful. But more often, they put a lid on psychological safety. These actions don’t allow space for people to process their feelings or find their own solutions.

It’s not leaders’ fault. The qualities they have often been praised and promoted for (drive, responsibility, intelligence) are the very qualities that can make it difficult to create psychological safety (listening, slowing down, coaching).

Here are some questions to reflect on:

  1. In what ways do I sometimes put a lid on the psychological safety in my team?
  2. How often do I share my own feelings, insecurities, mistakes with my colleagues?
  3. How often do my colleagues share the above with me? With each other?
  4. What one thing am I going to try out to increase psychological safety in my team?

This post was created with Typeshare



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Lisa Gill

Founder of Reimaginaire, trainer and coach with Tuff Leadership Training, host of Leadermorphosis podcast.