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Why Psychological Safety is so key to success

Some  insites from  Laura Delizonna’s article in Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2017/08/high-performing-teams-need-psychological-safety-heres-how-to-create-it

A two-year study on team performance at Google revealed that the highest-performing teams have one thing in common 


Psychological safety creates an environment of trust, and as Paul Santagata, Head of Industry at Google said “There’s no team without trust,” 

Psychological safety, the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake. 

Psychological safety allows for the types of behavior that lead to market breakthroughs such as

  • moderate risk-taking, 
  • speaking your mind, 
  • creativity, and 
  • sticking your neck out without fear of having it cut off 

Psychological Safety is both fragile and vital to success in uncertain, interdependent environments. 

Here’s why – 

The amygdala, that little kernel like thing in your brain – is our “emotional centre” – and the alarm bell in the brain. 

When there is a fear of danger – it ignites a fight-or-flight response, hijacking higher brain centers. It is a survival instinct that has made our species survive through the Millenia.

This “act first, think later” brain structure shuts down perspective and analytical reasoning… and just focussed on your survival. 

Quite literally, just when we need it most, we lose our minds.

An example of the Amygdala acting in the workplace 

The brain processes a provocation by a boss, competitive coworker, or dismissive subordinate as a life-or-death threat. (Its not – but the kernel has been triggered. ) While that fight-or-flight reaction may save us in life-or-death situations, it handicaps the strategic thinking needed in today’s workplace.

Psychological safety allows the amygdala to allow us to take those risks and still be comfortable that we will survive and thrive!

About the thought provoker

Laura Delizonna, PhD, is an executive coach, instructor at Stanford University, international speaker, and founder of ChoosingHappiness.com.

Posted on May 29, 2019

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