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Why Is Psychological Safety Crucial To Inclusive Leadership?

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

Psychological safety is an essential component to inclusive leadership. As we embark into the world of hybrid working, references to psychological safety get thrown around a lot and, dare I say, they have inadvertently become somewhat of a 'buzzword'. But what actually is psychological safety? It is, at least in the context of the workforce, the safety level of interpersonal risk of a team dynamic, where disagreement enriches understanding, where curiosity and challenge encourage overall team performance results in innovative growth. There is a mindful undercurrent and general awareness of the mental health and wellbeing within a team or workforce, where there is some level of responsibility, not purely related to workflow or performance, but care, workforce morale and culture matter - and it is also an important consideration in strategic and personal development.

The impact of COVID-19 forced organisational strategic transformation overnight – suddenly utilising digital and video-based communication platforms became part of the daily grind. At first strategic changes were mostly reactive – putting out fires but then, when we realised the reality of the situation – strategic changes became more responsive, pro-active in nature and reflective of the needs of the workforce, and suddenly workforce engagement was key.

Before COVID-19, inclusion was seen as an important issue, lots of lip service and little active effort to challenge the status-quo. However when COVID-19 hit there was an urgency to thinking differently and strategically, as consideration and accommodation for individual differences was no longer plainly important – it was vital.

Workforce engagement became essential for development of a working strategy. Open-questions and active listening were the soft skills needed to be honed by leaders to address this situation with confidence. Having the realisation that people are more than their lives behind their desks became very apparent and psychological safety was reflected in performance, productivity, rising development or worsening of mental health issues. This highlighted the need for support with workforce wellbeing. The adoption of an holistic approach is an essential component to psychological safety. By this I mean, realising that we - as humans - are complex, intersectional beings that, no matter how much you try, cannot be pigeon-holed. Therefore, it is vital that we adopt a mindful approach to care, mental health, and wellbeing – because everyone is different, and everyone is faced with their unique set of challenges.

Transparent messaging, trust and development of soft skills are key elements to ensuring psychological safety within your workforce. Check out my workshops designed to give you tangible skills in effective engagement and context-driven inclusive leadership. Learn to pro-actively address bias in your workforce.

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