Research Backed Approaches to Leadership and Team Dynamics with Dr. Will Ramey, The Leadership Dr.
Helping your team feel psychologically safe at work leads to creative solutions, richer connection within your team and helps take the pressure off you to have all the answers. I share the trap leaders can fall into, what psychological safety is, and how to encourage it within your team. Let’s get into it!
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The “Expert” Leader Trap
Team leaders sometimes feel that they need to have all the answers. Do you find yourself thinking that if you don’t have the best idea, your team members may not view you as “the leader”. Do you ever feel threatened by the talent and brilliance of the members of your team? You’re not alone. Often times, leaders believe they need to know everything, have all the answers, and be the best at everything. As we continue to work in fast paced ever changing work environments, we need to adapt how we lead.
I made this mistake early on in my leadership career. If I wasn’t the resident expert I wouldn’t be truly respected as a leader. It did have positive benefits. I consumed massive amounts of information. I learned new processes quickly. The downside was, I was not as connected to my team and did not give them space to bring up their ideas. They were not growing, and I was the reason why.
If you want the most creative solutions, the most innovative ideas, and the biggest buy in from your team, you must open up and embrace a different approach to leading. You’ve got an entire team that thinks differently, has a variety of perspectives and experiences that they bring to work. Leverage the collective power of your team by building trust with psychological safety.
What is Psychological Safety?
Amy Edmondson, an Organizational Behavior Scientist and expert in psychological safety has helped shape the definition. Psychological safety is a shared belief held amongst team members that they are safe to take risks and will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. When team members feel safe to share their thoughts, they are more likely to voice concerns, share new ideas, and engage at work. This leads to better decision-making, increased creativity and improved team performance.
Think about it. Did you ever have a good idea but felt shy about bringing it up? Maybe you watched as a someone you worked with tried something new, failed, then got ridiculed. How likely are you to try something new or bring up your idea in a work environment like that?
I led teams in the U.S. Army, we needed creative solutions, and sometimes we needed them fast. I relied heavily on the insights and ideas from my team members. The best ideas come from those closest to the problems. Therefore, I had to lead by creating a space where we were willing to try new ideas and continually refine them in order to learn and grow.
For a deeper dive into creating psychological safety check out the book The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth by Amy C. Edmondson
How to Encourage Team Psychological Safety
How do you create a culture of trust and psychological safety in your team?
Check out these three tips to get you started:
- Encourage open communication by creating channels where team members can share their ideas, thoughts, and concerns without fear of punishment. This can be done through regular team meetings, virtual suggestion boxes or one-on-one conversations.
- Create a culture of trust by being transparent, honest and fair in your interactions with team members. When team members see that you are trustworthy, they will be more likely to trust one another.
- Lead by example by being open to feedback and being willing to admit when you’re wrong or when you don’t know something. If team members see that you are willing to be curious, learn, and admit your mistakes, they will be open up too.
It’s time to embrace your team’s ideas and start building trust with psychological safety. By creating a culture where team members feel safe to share their thoughts, you’ll be amazed at the new ideas, perspectives and solutions that will come to the surface.
As a leader, it’s important to remember that creating a culture of trust and psychological safety is an ongoing process that requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to adapt and change.
Want to continue the conversation? Connect with me on LinkedIn Dr. William Ramey | LinkedIn
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