Leading innovation: Psychological safety (week 9)

psychological safety leadership culture innovation (illustration of a group of tomatoes, concept of a psychologically safe business culture)


Leading innovation: Psychological safety (week 9)

To lead innovation with psychological safety, nurture an agreed-upon setting that allows everyone to share their ideas without fear of retribution. 

Fresh Leadership For A New Age: A Series On The Art And Practice Of Leading Innovation The award-winning book Collective Genius by our founding partners Dr. Linda Hill and team reveals the strategies behind some of the world’s most innovative organizations. Their research makes it clear that a fresh approach to leadership is critical for organizations needing to sustain innovation or create transformative change. This 22-week series features tips on when and how you can bring this new leadership style to life in your organization. - image shows a lightbulb made of fresh fruit

Traditional leadership:

The conventional view has been that creating an environment where people feel psychologically safe is conveyed from the top down. Information is formal, corporate in tone, and tightly controlled, Employees are passive consumers of information.

A fresh approach:

In the new era, psychological safety is established through shared purpose, shared values, and agreed upon rules of engagement allowing everyone to share their ideas without fear of retribution. Leaders talk with employees not to them, and the culture fosters back-and-forth interaction. Leaders relinquish a measure of control over content, and employees actively participate in organizational messaging

Bring it to life:

  • Invite participation by showing you care and want to hear from others.
  • Respond to challenges, mistakes, or other issues in encouraging ways, such as by asking what is needed and offering to help vs. punishment, which discourages people from being honest or coming forward
  • Emphasize listening to your employees rather than just speaking to them.
  • Encourage employees to engage in a bottom-up exchange of ideas and to act as brand ambassadors and thought leaders
  • Establish a clear agenda to inform all communication and carefully explain the agenda to employees
  • Admit to mistakes and failures, and seek to learn from them
  • Show humility, with curiosity, interest and fallibility
  • Provide context for your team’s work—how complex, what they are trying to do, what’s needed from them, so they understand the journey
  • Create an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work

Next week: Question Everything.

Innovation solutions from Paradox Strategies

Our Collective Genius simulation and learning journey is designed to help leaders inspire action, nourish creativity, and build a culture of innovation. We also offer keynotes and our proprietary innovation diagnostic assessments re:Mind™ and re:Route™ as first steps in developing the mindset, culture, and capabilities of innovative organizations. Contact us via the form below if you would like to know how to bring these great tools to your organization.