Leaders Toolkit: Productive Response - Deepstash

Leaders Toolkit: Productive Response

What a leader needs to do to garner productive response:

  • Express appreciation – Listen, acknowledge and thank
  • Destigmatize failure – Look forward, offer help. Discuss, consider and brainstorm the next steps
  • Sanction clear violations

This creates a shared learning environment with mutual respect.

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An overlooked factor at an organization: The climate of psychological safety

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MORE IDEAS FROM The Fearless Organization

Most companies do not pay adequate attention to the need for psychological safety to help people cope with the uncertainty and anxiety of organizational change. Psychological safety at any company is vital for helping people overcome the defensiveness and “learning anxiety” they face at work, especially when something doesn’t go as they’d hoped or expected.

Psychological safety is not a personality difference but rather a feature of the workplace that leaders can and must help create.

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The Fearless Organisation: Creating Psychological Safety At The Workplace

Amy Edmondson is a management professor at Harvard Business School and has done a tremendous amount of work in the area of psychological safety.

In her Tedx Talk, she describes psychological safety as “a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.” Psychological safety is a critical yet often overlooked concept, and one which underpins Edmondson’s latest book, The Fearless Organization – Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth.

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What a leader needs to do to invite participation:

  • Demonstrate situational humility – Acknowledge gaps
  • Practice inquiry – Ask good questions and model intense listening
  • Set up structures and processes – Create forums for input and provide guidelines for discussion.

This accomplishes confidence in the team that voices are welcome.

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An appropriate, empathetic and powerful question has the following attributes:

  • Generates curiosity in the listener
  • Stimulates reflective conversation
  • Is thought-provoking
  • Surfaces underlying assumptions
  • Invites creativity and new possibilities
  • Generates energy and forward movement
  • Channels attention and focuses inquiry
  • Stays with participants
  • Touches a deep meaning
  • Evokes more questions

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Although trust and psychological safety have much in common, they aren’t interchangeable concepts. A key difference is that psychological safety is experienced at a group level. Further, psychological safety describes a temporally immediate experience

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What the leader needs to do for setting up the stage:

  • Frame the work – Set expectations about failure, and interdependence to clarify the need for voice
  • Emphasise the purpose – Identify what’s at stake, why it matters, and for whom

This accomplishes shared expectations and meaning.

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Company strategy can be viewed as a hypothesis, to be tested continuously, rather than a plan. 

Organisational learning – championed by company leaders but enacted by everyone – requires actively seeking deviations that challenge the assumptions underpinning a current strategy.

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Being able to say that you don’t know and driving participation through inquiry are two strong tenets of psychological safety. Edmondson shares some rules of thumb for asking a good question: One, you don’t know the answer; two, you ask questions that don’t limit responses to Yes or No, and three, you phrase the question in a way that helps others share their thinking in a focused way.

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Working in a psychologically safe environment doesn’t mean that people always agree with one another for the sake of being nice. It also doesn’t mean that people offer unequivocal praise or unconditional support for everything you have to say. Psychological safety is about candour, about making it possible for productive disagreement and free exchange of ideas. Conflict inevitably arises in any workplace. Psychological safety enables people on different sides of a conflict to speak candidly about what’s bothering them.

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Psychological safety isn’t about personalities and refers to the work climate, and climate affects people with different personality traits in roughly similar ways. In a psychologically safe climate, people will offer ideas and voice their concerns regardless of whether they tend toward introversion or extroversion.

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Psychological safety is not an “anything goes” environment where people aren’t expected to adhere to high standards or meet deadlines. It isn’t about becoming “comfortable” at work. Psychological safety enables candour and openness and, as such, thrives in an environment of mutual respect.

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RELATED IDEA

Psychological safety in the workplace

Dr. Amy Edmondson (who coined the term psychological safety), defines it as, "a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes."

This is a critical factor for high-performing teams.

Teams with strong psychological safety are less afraid of the negative consequences that may result from:

  • Taking smart risks
  • Making mistakes
  • Sharing their opinions within their team
  • Being candid with one another.

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The Beginning of Infinity

Is the possibility of the unlimited growth of knowledge in the future.

David Deutsch, a renouned phisicist, postulates that Knowledge consists of explanations (assertions about what is out there beyond the appearances). For most of the history , we had almost no success in creating such knowledge. 

Deutsch’s worldview is that reality is comprehensible. Problems are solvable. Progress is inevitable as long as we have good explanations. 

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LINDA HILL

“If your goal is innovation, then your role must instead be to create an environment—a setting, a context, an organization—where people are willing and able to do the hard work of innovation themselves: to collaborate, learn through trial and error, and make integrated decisions.”

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The author argues that the traditional autocratic leadership model does not work for innovative businesses. Instead, innovation requires a different type of leader that can foster a stimulating and supportive working environment.

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