Psychological Safety and the Critical Role of Leadership Development | McKinsey & Co

Leadership & Culture

Psychological safety (PS) is a term used to describe the belief that one won’t be rejected, embarrassed, or punished for speaking up or being themselves. And with studies showing that PS can promote risk-taking, innovation, and team performance, PS has become an important workplace topic–particularly during the pandemic where PS is more likely to be threatened. In this research by McKinsey, they identify how leaders can cultivate PS by role modeling PS behaviors and creating the right climate, mindsets, and interactions within their teams. One finding is that a positive team climate is the most critical driver of PS and most likely to occur when leaders demonstrate supportive and consultative behaviors in their teams. Interestingly, the research found that the skills that promote PS behaviors–such as situational humility and sponsorship– are least often found in leadership development programs. These findings suggest that firms can benefit from reorienting the skills developed in leadership programs to include PS-based leadership capabilities. The impact can yield many benefits, “from improved innovation, experimentation, and agility to better overall organizational health and performance.” In case you missed it, here is a 40-minute podcast where Amy Edmondson and David Green have a discussion about PS in the workplace.

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