Are you creating Safety or Inviting Risk-Taking?
Amy Edmondson uses the analogy of sailing when trying to create the ideal environment of Psychological Safety – that of Tacking Upwind – the reality that the only way to actually arrive at your goal is to zigzag your way slowly but surely, with commitment and purpose towards true north.
But in a virtual world, there is no wind…
- How is interpersonal risk redefined in the virtual, WFH space?
- Is that cultivated safety now implicit and does it go beyond purely psychological?
- Is it simply easier, given the familiarity of our own environment, that innate feeling of comfort in one’s own home?
- The new reality that permits us to literally disconnect with a push of a button, if and when we feel threatened?
- The collective anonymity of a webinar / large Zoom call setting?
- Can I still feel exclusion, when I’m already in isolation?
- Are we more comfortable finding our voice in a group call, as our awareness tells us we are alone and thus the fear of judgement and the overlaying greater fear of being ostracised seems less relevant?
- Does this newly found level playing field allow for greater equality and thereby emboldening of Self; representation, creativity, and confidence?
Establishing the same safe space or environment as a leader still requires the usual precursors: attention, appreciation, encouragement, situational humility, cognitive diversity, connection, open communication coupled with heart centred consciousness, transparency, and of course trust.
Albeit only via a virtual plane right now, the commonality of uncertainty and discomfort still creates a unifying connection, which in a typical hierarchical control structure, both physically and metaphysically is not prevalent, though it is fundamental for developing that sense of belonging and ownership which typifies high performing teams.
This connection then leads to open sharing and heart centred leadership, from every participant. The diversity of thought and the unknowable parameters create the fertile ground for truly free ideation and inclusivity. Newly afforded to us by our proximity to decision-makers and each other on a daily basis, allowing those who never found their voice or were never afforded the opportunity before, to now stand up and enter the arena.
We all have a say in the evolution of what the new normal will look like and in creating that new reality it is prudent to remember it is as much about what we let go, as it is about something brand new we can bring to the table.
One of the facets which I hope is no longer a consideration is the need for Psychological Safety…
As the lessons we have learnt through this challenge equip us with the tools to consider others first, allow free discovery, foster resilience, connections which are forged with heart not necessity, unconditionality with all things and acceptance via a relinquishing of the need to be judgemental.
Perhaps the greatest take away from this experience is the belief that we are not alone and that every voice adds value.
This shared, interconnected happening has reinforced that sense of unity, reminding us that at our core we are all one. Reminding us of what it means to be truly human and in so doing removes the toxic situation in which interpersonal risk is a necessary armour to acquire or where psychological safety is a conscious consideration for today’s leaders.
This is my hope…