Leader, do you cultivate psychological safety?

I’ll admit it, I can get hung up on a big idea. Right now, the big idea is the importance of psychological safety (PsyS). I’ve posted about it several times before and I’m posting about it again. If you are not familiar with the concept, the jargon can be misleading. “PsyS” sounds like an attempt to make the workplace a utopia where every idea is good and everyone’s performance is exceptional… smiles, nods, and a lot of non-disruptive chatter. Coincidentally, that’s actually what the lack of PsyS looks like. This kind of environment is no utopia at all. The apparent peace and order is a thin veil for a workplace where everyone keeps their heads down for fear of having it lopped off if they raise it above the fear-induced water line. This quick read from HBR (<10 min) briefly describes PsyS, how it impacts a culture of “intellectual bravery” and innovation, and, most importantly, how leaders actively cultivate PsyS in their organizations. Like most faddish ideas in leadership, PsyS is certainly not new — it is rooted in deeply valuing other humans to the same extent that we value ourselves. Good leaders have been doing that for a long time. What perhaps is new, is the data that demonstrates just how destructive psychologically unsafe environments are to both people and business.

This article was originally posted at LinkedIn.

Devon Berry recently served as clinical associate professor and executive associate nursing dean at the Oregon Health and Science University School of Nursing.