Psychologically Safe for Some, but Not All?

By Andy Loignon and Stephanie Wormington
Center for Creative Leadership

 

Abstract

In this Research Insights paper, we challenge the assumption that team members perceive similar levels of psychological safety and consider how different patterns of psychological safety matter for team effectiveness. Based on data from 278 intact senior leadership teams, our results provide three key insights:

  • More than half (62%) of senior leadership teams in our sample demonstrated significant variability around their team’s psychological safety.
  • We identified six prototypical patterns of psychological safety among teams, with only one representing a shared view of psychological safety. Other patterns represented dissenting views of greater or less psychological safety.
  • Patterns of psychological safety matter for team effectiveness. Teams whose members report greater agreement around psychological safety exhibit some of the highest levels of performance and lowest levels of interpersonal conflict.

Based on these findings, we consider important implications for how leaders can cultivate psychological safety in their teams.

Citation

Loignon, A. & Wormington, S. (2022). Psychologically Safe for Some, but Not All?: The Downsides of Assuming Shared Psychological Safety among Senior Leadership Teams. Greensboro, NC; Center for Creative Leadership.  https://doi.org/10.35613/ccl.2022.2048

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