In business coaching, culture, leaders, leadership

Building on my last article on empathy, today’s is an impulse piece on empathy and building a psychologically safe environment.

Business coaching and training Hamburg native English and German Cary Langer-Donohoe

Psychological safety means: ‘a believe that there will be no punishment or humiliation for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes, and the team is safe for inter-personal risk-taking. “

(Amy Edmondson)

Unsurprisingly, the Google Aristotle study on successful teams found that psychological safety is the most important factor influencing that success. Timothy R. Clark’s model of the four stages building a psychologically safe framework emphasize the importance of empathy in leadership in order to create a safe work environment.

Just a quick reminder, so we are all on the same page:

Empathy is the ability to take on someone else’s perspective, to understand and share their experience, and, in particular, their feelings.

Diving into Clark’s model, it contains four steps of safety , which result in a working environment everyone feels included, valuable, comfortable to ask questions, make contributions and challenge assumptions without fear of judgement, ridicule or punishment.

In order to achieve this culture a leader needs to demonstrate empathy, active listening and vulnerability, i.e. they too can err and be human. Authenticity will be key to allowing that vulnerability and taking down any walls that may be there, initially, for self-protection.

If you want your team to take risks as a leader you need to take risks too.

If you want your employees to take risks you as leader must provide a safe environment to do so.

Empathy will help you build an environment where everyone will feel comfortable to do that, knowing that there is a foundation of understanding amongst each other.

If this has piqued your interest, get in touch! I look forward to hearing from you.


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Business coaching and training Hamburg native English and German Cary Langer-Donohoe