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Leaders Need to Provide Psychological Safety for Employees

Leaders Need to Provide Psychological Safety for Employees

March 11, 2021
McKinsey's study shows a “positive team climate—in which team members value one another’s contributions, care about one another’s well-being is the most important driver of a team’s psychological safety.”

As the pandemic has demonstrated, business runs better when employees feel a high level of trust in their company. They need to feel comfortable to ask for help or offer new ways of thinking to adjust to a new normal. However, not many leaders are able to demonstrate the positive behaviors that can provide psychological safety for workers, according to a recent McKinsey Global Survey. 

Their research has shown that a “positive team climate—in which team members value one another’s contributions, care about one another’s well-being and have input into how the team carries out its work—is the most important driver of a team’s psychological safety.”

To help leaders create leadership that enhances psychological safety, McKinsey recommends the following actions:

  •  Go beyond one-off training programs and deploy an at-scale system of leadership development.  While the delivery of learning may be sequenced as a series of trainings—and rapidly codified and scaled for all leaders across a cohort or function of the organization—those trainings will be even more effective when combined with other building blocks of a broader learning system, such as behavioral reinforcements.
  • Invest in leadership-development experiences that are emotional, sensory and create aha moments. It's critical that learning programs prompt leaders to engage with and shift their underlying beliefs, assumptions and emotions to bring about lasting mindset changes. Companies can begin with facilitated experiences that push learners toward personal introspection through targeted reflection questions and small, intimate breakout conversations.
  • Build mechanisms to make development a part of leaders’ day-to-day work. The organization’s most senior leaders need to be the first adopters of putting real work at the core of their development, which requires senior leaders to role model—publicly—their own processes of learning. These examples become strong signals for leaders across the organization that it is safe to be practicing, failing and developing on the job.

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