Greetings from Gettysburg and welcome to the July edition of the GLC Newsletter.
Creating inclusive, innovative, and learning-focused teams is more important than ever. In a polarized world still wrestling with the impact of the pandemic, feelings of uncertainty and isolation among leaders and followers continue to persist. One way that we can address these challenges as leaders within our organizations is through enacting psychological safety.
Psychological safety, first coined 20 years ago by organizational theorist Dr. Amy Edmondson, is
“a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.”
– Dr. Amy Edmondson
Below are a few points of information on psychological safety, which I hope will help you to build and lead your own empowering, people-centered communities.
- How is this related to leadership? Leaders create the conditions in which this belief is fostered and cultivated. Leaders must demonstrate this belief first, as well as affirm words and actions to reinforce psychological safety.
- What are the benefits? Organizational theorist Dr. Adam Grant shares three benefits for organizations: 1) preventing errors, 2) creativity and innovation, and 3) inclusivity.
- But what about accountability and excellence? Don’t they suffer under these conditions? Dr. Edmondson doesn’t think so. She argues that they are two different dimensions. She suggests leaders must build psychological safety AND empower their teams through motivation. Check out her TED talk, her book, or this podcast.
- What else do leaders need to consider? In a previous newsletter, I discussed Google’s research on teams, which includes psychological safety as well as four other components: dependability, structure and clarity, meaning of work, and the impact of work.
As we continue to lead teams, organizations, and communities in various leadership capacities, I encourage us all to find new ways to create the conditions for those we lead to take interpersonal risks for the betterment of all. This will take vulnerability, humility, and patience, but it will also improve the group experience and yield better results.
This is the type of experience I hope to build in the GLC team and through our programming. I’m excited to soon welcome our 40+ student leaders back to campus early next month and commence our outdoor pre-Orientation leadership program Ascent.
Thank you for reading and I wish you well in your leadership practice.
Executive Director, Garthwait Leadership Center