What does it mean to lead your team to accomplish professional goals?
What does it mean to have a team that follows you?
What does it mean to have a team you can truly trust?
It starts with you, but not in the way you think. You need to provide your team with psychological safety if they are going to be effective for you.
What is psychological safety?
Psychological safety is another mind-blowing concept I learned at the Harvard conference, Leading High Growth Businesses. When I say “another,” the first of many was about leading a high growth team the next was about failure (but not in the ‘standard’ sense, please, read my article on this) .
Psychological safety is the need… absolute need for your team to know they are safe in your company. They need to feel safe to voice their opinions, share insights and even admit mistakes without being fearful of being blamed for their action of sharing the information.
This is a must if you are going to move forward and really make things happen for your business.
For businesses to really thrive today you need to:
Be bold enough to embark on market creation
Embrace diversity (not just race/gender, also ideas)
Cross train in multiple roles (no more “get out of my sand box!”)
Did any of those six-listed start to get you a little anxious? These six items, even one of these can cause a fair big of disorganization and change around the office. Change will ruffle feathers in some, be welcome by others, and cause a few to roll their eyes and batten down the hatches until all the “change” is over.
It will cause the politeness to rub off and will most likely nudge a few to speak out. If you’re really going to change things, you need to have a team on board that will go with you and support your charge.
Think about this. Our job as leaders, entrepreneurs, the dreamers, the risk takers is to paint the picture of our vision for our team to get behind. We have to take our magical thinking and emotionally connect with our team so they can see where we are going and how they’d have a part to play in getting us there.
We need their help on this new road to the unknown. It really is as if we are conquering new lands. And as we do this, we can’t always rely on the old road map nor on the old behaviours.
Our new travels will spark something in one team member and rub another the wrong way. In order to get the best out of them during this time, they need to feel safe to voice their opinions and suggestions and recommendations.
They need to be able to voice these things that may be negative (they might be protecting the company), may be off the wall and previously unthought-of, they might be the next best idea that takes yours, dear leader and suggests a better way of getting to where you wanted to go.
Do you see how all this is valuable, priceless?
It can only happen if your team knows they are safe. What does safe mean vis a vis the psychological safety net??
It means they will not be blamed for their suggestions, they will not be reprimanded, made fun of or told they are “not a team player.” They will be thanked for voicing their ideas and these ideas will be taken into consideration. Seriously. Not lip service, seriously.
Having a psychologically safe environment isn’t something you do overnight. Nor is it something you proclaim like the next catchy business term of the moment. It is something that has to be felt and trusted and consistent.
It is a change of behaviour for most teams. It needs to come from the top, be supported all the way down and be consistent. It needs to be tested out by a few team members to see if it is really “true”. Only then can you truly thrive with a team that has your back as your business moves forward.
My Big Idea workshops help teams create and support psychologically safety in their company as a matter of how they interact. Learn more here.
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing THE Agency and My Big Idea™. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.