Kaleidoskope Blog - The Wisdom of Clemmie Churchill and Amy Edmonson

The Wisdom Of Clemmie Churchill And Amy Edmonson

In our last instalment on the Psychological Safety series, we discussed Mrs Winston Churchill’s letter to her husband[1] in 1940, encouraging him amid an imminent German invasion, and finally exhorting him as follows:

My Darling Winston I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; and you are not so kind as you used to be.

It is for you to give the Orders, and if they are bungled—except for the King, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Speaker—you can sack anyone and everyone. 

Therefore, with this terrific power you must combine urbanity, kindness, and—if possible—Olympic calm.

Besides, you won’t get the best results by irascibility and rudeness. They will breed either dislike or a slave mentality. 

Please forgive your loving, devoted, and watchful

Clemmie

Fast forward to 60 years later, in 1999, Dr Amy Edmondson[2] was studying clinical teams and the number of mistakes that different teams made. During her research she was surprised to find that the teams with a higher number of good outcomes made more mistakes than teams with fewer good outcomes. It was a surprising result, but after further investigation, Dr Edmondson discovered that in fact those teams with better outcomes were admitting more mistakes, whilst the teams with fewer good outcomes were more likely to hide theirs. 

As a result, Dr Edmondson codified the concept of psychological safety, namely: the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes, and the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.

Over the years, this concept has garnered substantial interest within organisational psychology and management fields. In addition, it has been successfully implemented across diverse sectors, including healthcare, education, technology, and finance, underlining its universal relevance and importance.

What are the areas that psychological safety has a direct impact on?

At its core, psychological safety engenders an environment of open communication. When individuals feel secure expressing their ideas and opinions, they are more inclined to participate in constructive discussions and contribute to the creative discourse. It facilitates a free-flowing exchange of ideas and insights, fostering a hotbed of innovative solutions and practical problem-solving strategies.

In addition, psychological safety spurs learning and growth. Feeling safe to make mistakes encourages employees to take risks and explore novel approaches. It fosters a culture of experimentation and continuous improvement, a critical asset in staying competitive in today’s fast-paced market.

Moreover, psychological safety correlates with heightened employee engagement and job satisfaction. When employees feel esteemed and respected, they are more committed to their work and aligned with the organisation’s objectives. As a result, it positively impacts productivity and drives superior business results.

What happens in the absence of psychological safety?

In an environment where individuals fear repercussions for voicing their thoughts, transparency, and accountability may suffer, allowing issues to fester unnoticed. It can engender a culture of fear and isolation, stifling creativity, and hampering cooperation.

The Takeaway

Psychological safety is a cornerstone of a vibrant work environment. 

An environment where team members feel secure expressing concerns, seeking assistance, and providing feedback without apprehension of negative repercussions means a more collaborative and supportive work environment that stimulates innovation and creativity.

Talk to us today to find out more about our workshops on Psychological Safety.  

As leaders, developing and nurturing an environment of psychological safety has become even more critical in the current work environment. At Kaleidoskope we are offering a leadership programme to help your teams and managers apply the practices of psychological safety and effectively mitigating the detrimental effects of a fear-driven culture. With our many years of combined industry expertise in learning and development, we are confident to offer pragmatic, holistic programs tailored to your business needs. 

SOURCES:
[1] International Churchill Society
[2] Psychological Safety

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