Psychological safety PLUS is an expanded view and practice of psychological safety.
In the 1960s, Schein and Bennis defined psychological safety as a group phenomenon that reduces interpersonal risk – decreasing “a person’s anxiety about being basically accepted and worthwhile”.
Today, it’s often defined as the belief that a team is safe for risk taking. That you won’t be seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disruptive, and won’t be humiliated, punished, or socially ousted for asking a question, admitting a mistake, or offering a new idea.
Good stuff, but more is needed.
In psychological safety PLUS, the belief that a team is safe for risk taking is part of it. But rather than the definition, it’s one of the outcomes. Psychological safety Plus focuses more on activating people’s potential.
Psychological safety PLUS is about creating the conditions where people feel protected from mental or emotional (and physical) danger, risk, or injury. Creating and holding spaces where people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.
Why? Because those are the norms and conditions in which we flourish.
Those are the conditions that support both the unfolding of individual potential and the removal of obstacles to that potential and the boosting of the collective intelligence within a team.
Feeling psychologically safe enables you to express as your best self more often. The individual best self and the organizational best self.
ENHANCING PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY
So what makes psychological safety PLUS different from the traditional?
First, it brings cutting edge research from several fields together. It brings awareness to the underlying components in communications so we feel confident in creating communication safety for ourselves and others.
Second, psychological safety PLUS adds in emotions as a central component (after all, psychological safety is about how people feel). Emotional intelligence isn’t enough to fully create psychological safety so psychological safety PLUS explores what we need in an emotional model for emotional safety.
A third component involves creating a healthy sense of self in the workplace (again leaning heavily on the research).
And fourth, it adds the essential dimension of psychological safety from the inside out.
Most psychological safety literature talks about creating psychological safety at the organizational level, but developing psychological safety within individuals and within leaders is just as important (and maybe even more effective).
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