Leadership Skills to Foster a Psychologically Safe Workplace Environment

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In today’s podcast episode, we interview Stephan Wiedner, Psychological Safety Expert at Zarango. Today’s topics are focused on the definition of psychological safety, its importance, and the leadership skills that support  psychologically safe environments, helping team members as they Team Anywhere.

What Surprised Stephan Over the Last 2 Years

Stephan saw a bimodal divide between leaders with regards to the sudden transition to fully remote work as caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders often say that they don’t know how their team is doing or that they sense that the team seems stressed. These concerns are an indication that there is a lack of psychological safety wherein team members would naturally be able to express their concerns.

What is Psychological Safety and Why is it Important?

According to Amy Edmondson, psychological safety is defined as a belief  within your organization that members can speak  their minds and  express concerns with the confidence that they’re going to be heard and listened to.

Psychological safety is important because it fosters increased employee engagement, heightens productivity, and improves talent retention.  Since a psychological safe environment fosters open dialogue, it is important to equip leaders with the skills to handle challenging interpersonal situations. The result is increased creativity and productivity, leading to organizational growth and success. 

Leadership Skills to Foster a Psychologically Safe Workplace Environment

According to Stephan, there are two sets of skills that leaders should possess to foster a psychologically safe workplace environment: “the what” they need to do and “the how” they do it. The what consists of actions such as asking open-ended questions. And the how focuses on the way a leader asks those questions or how a leader responds to comments and statements. These are further subdivided into eight (8) Management Facilitative Interpersonal Skills.

  1. Verbal Fluency – This skill shows how well a leader verbally expresses their words. A low verbal fluency score represents anxiety.
  2. Creating Hope and Positive Expectations – This skill shows how well a leader pushes their team to become productive despite difficult situations or environments.
  3. Persuasiveness – This skill shows how well a leader can convince a team member or team members with a different perspective.
  4. Emotional Expression – This skill shows how well a leader projects their facial expressions, tone of voice, and nonverbal cues which all influence the receiver’s reaction.
  5. Acceptance and Understanding – This skill shows how well a leader accepts people with different cultural backgrounds, race, ethnicity, color, ideas, opinions, values etc. 
  6. Empathy – This skill shows how well a leader can put themselves in the same rabbit hole that a person hides into. Expression is not enough; what is important is the way it is conveyed and understood.
  7. Collaborativeness – This skill shows how a leader’s capacity can build, develop and foster relationships within an organization. It emphasizes the power of teamwork in figuring out problems.
  8. Interpersonal Responsiveness – This skill shows how well a leader can skillfully approach conflict or challenging interpersonal moments without pretending that it did not happen or just talking it away.

Who is Stephan Wiedner?

Stephan Wiedner is a psychological safety expert whose career has focused on developing sustainable high performance leaders, teams, and organizations. His passion for unleashing the collective potential of people has led him to cofound Noomii.com, the web’s largest network of independent life coaches; Skillsetter.com, the deliberate practice platform for interpersonal skills; and Zarango.com, the psychological safety training experts.

Stephan has been a guest speaker for ACETech, MAGI, Marketing IMPACT Council, and many other audiences interested in psychology, business, and technology. His writing has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other popular publications. Stephan is married with two children and enjoys spending quality time outdoors, hiking, biking, camping, and reading.

To learn more about Foster a Psychologically Safe Workplace Environment, download this episode now.

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