The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace – Amy C. Edmondson

Success requires a continuous influx of new ideas, new challenges, critical thinking, and the interpersonal environment to feel safe speaking up without fear of repercussions. Leadership expert Amy Edmondson defines a fearless organization as one in which people feel psychologically safe – being protected from ridicule or penalties when they share their ideas, feedback, and constructive criticisms. When this happens, firms benefit from better ideas, more risk-taking, increased learning, and fewer disastrous decisions. There are only a few firms that truly exhibit fearlessness. 

Leaders' conscious and subconscious behaviors, actions, and words often suppress alternative views. At times, employees will hold back from sharing ideas and opinions for fear of looking foolish, offending others, damaging relationships, or losing their jobs. Edmondson provides some powerful insights that explore the link between psychological safety and high performance and how to create a culture where it is "safe" to express ideas, ask questions, and admit mistakes. 

  • Psychological safety is not about being nice; it is about engaging in productive conflict and choosing to be respectfully candid over staying silent and safe. 
  • Teams with psychological safety learn more, innovate more, and produce better results than other teams, an important distinction, especially in today's age of information, collaboration, and complexity. 

Last year, I spent some time immersing myself in Amy's work, and I became a certified Psychological Safety coach using her framework. The first step in the process is identifying the level of psychological safety on your team through an assessment process. Once we can see where your challenges are, then we can work together to design a path forward. 

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