Amy Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, and the world’s leading expert in psychological safety. On this week’s podcast episode, Amy and I discuss her groundbreaking research, as well as her latest book, The Fearless Organization. We also talk about what psychological safety is, what it is not, why it’s necessary for high performance, examples of leaders who are doing it well, and what we can do even better in modern society to create an environment where everyone feels safe to be themselves, take risks, and do their best work.
[2:55] Psychological safety is when you genuinely feel as though your voice is welcomed, and you are free to be yourself and have your own opinions.
[4:43] Amy found that the most cohesive teams reported making the most mistakes, but it wasn’t because they were less capable. It turned out they were just more able to and willing to come forward about their mistakes and to grow and learn from them.
[5:10] Trust is a component that makes up psychological safety. Trust is more one-on-one and based on an expectation we have about a person or entity, where psychological safety is fundamentally self-focused and within the context of a group.
[6:33] Psychological safety is not the norm, and yet it is something that can definitely give an organization that leading edge. It is much more necessary when the work is complex and interdependent.
[14:47] What is psychological safety not? It isn’t about being nice, nor is it about whining, complaining or expecting everything to be done your way. It’s also not a safe space that guards against any possible trigger moments.
[16:13] Great leaders are able to be authentic and vulnerable when tasks are complicated and difficult. There is power in admitting to others that something is hard or unknown, as long as we keep going with our mission.
[19:45] School is a perfect example of psychological safety, as it must be present to feel secure asking questions and offering ideas. This leads to more learning and others, in turn, helping their teammates.
[27:23] Different viewpoints and perspectives matter.
[31:50] Amy cites Pixar and Salesforce as two examples of organizations that model candor, humility, and vulnerability.
[38:14] Psychological safety is important, but it also is a means to an end. The goal is really for innovation, excellence, and creativity and psychological safety is how we get there.
[39:11] The “Good Question” is a question that focuses on something that matters, gives people room to respond, doesn’t presuppose the answer, and invites careful thought.
[41:27] You must honor the effort it took for others to say something.
[43:03] We are often just one 10-minute “sweaty palm conversation” away from really connecting with others and what it is we are seeking from them.
[46:03] Good leaders know how to get on the same side of the table and look forward with those on the frontline. They give good feedback and figure out how they can help their people.
“We have to be willing and able to take risks or we’ll get stuck and be stagnant.” @AmyCEdmondsonClick to tweet
“When we remember to be curious, we remember to ask questions and we give each other a platform for voice.” @AmyCEdmondsonClick to tweet