Building Psychological Safety and Resilience in Teams with Executive Coach, Brad Reed
It’s Jenn DeWall. And on this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, I sat down with Brad Reed to talk about building resilience in creating psychological safety on your team. Brad is an Executive Wellness and Performance Coach, who after spending years suffering from mental health issues and severe chronic pain, healed himself, changed his life, and moved to Asia. He is currently an executive coach and is the founder of Repurpose You, a coaching and training business that centers around optimizing the happiness wellbeing mindset and EQ for leaders and professionals, which helps to improve team dynamics and psychological safety and optimize individual and organizational performance. I hope you enjoy our conversation where we discuss the foundation of creating psychological safety, as well as what tips and techniques you can do as a leader to make sure that your environment is a place where all feel comfortable to thrive!
Meet Brad Reed, Executive Coach
Hi everyone, it’s Jenn DeWall, and in this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, I’m sitting down with Brad Reed. Now you may not know him, but Brad is an Executive Wellness and Performance Coach, and he’s located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. So this is probably a very different times difference or time zone change for both of us as it’s 7:00 AM for me here in Denver; what did you say it was, Brad? It’s 8:00 PM for you today. Yeah, but we make it work. Right. That’s the great thing about this. You know, we, no matter where you are located, leadership is the thing that bonds us. It’s the experience. And it’s a challenge that many of us can relate to, and it does truly transcend cultural borders. So Brad, welcome to the show. Could you go ahead and just tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you so much, Jenn. I think it’s a real pleasure to be here, and thank you for the introduction. That was a very kind little bit about me. If I can make it short- again, I’m an Executive Wellness and Performance Coach, and I’m based in Ho Chi Minh City, although I do have clients globally that I see one-on-one. I founded a business, Repurpose You, and it’s my goal with Repurpose You is to empower people, to remember their deepest potential. It’s really focused on deep personal growth and development to live a more fulfilled, purpose-driven, and happy life. So I do that with individuals, and at the organizational level, I help leaders, managers, professionals improve performance by understanding the science of wellbeing, happiness, growth, and change. And that’s a beautiful combination because when we look inside of organizational performance productivity, we find that what underpins all, if not most of that, is our state of wellbeing. Our team dynamics, the way we communicate. And most importantly, of course, the way we feel. And so we optimize ourselves, we optimize our team. Most of the challenges of the organization are then they take care of themselves. And the ones that remained are far easier to deal with. That’s a little bit about me. Thank you so much.
Yeah. I feel like I need to optimize myself. There are so many things, especially here coming out of the tail end of summer, feeling like maybe, oh, I need a reset. And so I love that word, optimize. It’s really coming to your true potential. Today, Brad and I are going to be talking about understanding how you can build team resilience, which you know, and we’re also going to be talking about what comes with that. If we want to have a resilient team, we’ve got to create an environment for them to thrive. So we’re also going to be talking about building psychological safety, which obviously has been so important, you know, through the pandemic. And it’s going to continue to be, as many of us are going back into lockdown again, and the world is continuing to change. But prior to that was so important and maybe not given the attention that it deserves. So from your perspective, where do we even begin? Because it seems like such a broad problem to address, to build team resilience, and create psychological safety. That can seem like a, especially if your organization might be big or maybe you feel that you don’t have the opportunity or the power or the means or whatever that might be to be able to make an impact, right? It’s just a drop in the bucket. How do you even start to look at building team resilience and creating psychological safety?
How Do We Create Psychological Safety?
That’s a fantastic question. And I’m going to go off of something you said towards the end there, which is the feeling that you can’t make a difference. And the thing is, no matter what level you are, no matter who you’re interacting with, you absolutely can. Okay. When you learn to empower yourself, become a better version of who you are, communicate more clearly, then your behavior starts to have an impact on other people. It’s our actions that affect other people. Okay. In NLP, we always say communication is the response you get, which is really interesting. So, and if we look at the way that conventional leadership training is done, we start at the top and work our way down because emotional intelligence, resilience, psychological safety is spread, built, and compounded through the currency of behavior. And so yeah, every single choice you make, every action you’d make can have a difference.
So that would be my supplement to what you said. There is my addition to the earlier part, which is a whole. What do I start if the organizations are big, small, little? Well, if it’s a smaller organization, you’re in a better position because you’re forming and forging your culture as you go, and you have a little bit more in essence control or a little bit you’re in a better position to make changes faster and to bring in the right people who match your vision, your mission, your purpose. If you’re trying to build a team that’s high-performing at a larger organizational level, well training, coaching consulting. Okay. And what that means is buy-in from leadership, human resources, and policy at every level of the organization. So you can’t hope by holding, you know, yoga sessions twice a month at a company that wellbeing is going to be transformed miraculously. It doesn’t work that way.
It has to be a holistic, integrated process at every level of the organization at the behavior of the individuals. That includes the behavior of the leader. That includes the behavior of HR. That includes the policies inside the organization. That includes the behaviors, the managers, the team leaders, and the individuals on the team. So again, it starts with the intention, the purpose of changing. Okay. And I have a process that I can share with you that helps reify that if you’re interested, so sort of a framework that people can go through to get started if you’re interested.
Yeah! Let’s hear it!
How to Start Enacting Change in Your Organization
Okay. Okay. Okay. So, first of all, you need to determine if you want to sort of enact change where your team or your organization is. That’s really important. You know, we get a lot of very well-intentioned people from HR or in leadership who hear these buzz words like wellbeing and high-performance and, and transformation and ETQ and they go, oh, let’s do a, let’s do you know, a magic Mondays or, you know, yoga Wednesdays or whatever it may be without having done the prerequisite of understanding where the organization is and what the needs of the company are.
Okay. There are different ways you can build happiness and resilience inside of a team. You can look at purpose. Okay. You can look at resilience. You can look at kindness. You can look at empathy, you can look at EQ. So there are different facets that go into that. So understanding the needs and the pain points of the people that you’re trying to help is really number one.
I think that that can feel a little intimidating for some people I know. And even for me, depending on the relationship with someone, it can be really difficult to maybe identify that. And so I guess I, do you have any tips for how you can maybe assess that and say like, what is their need? Is it reflecting on metrics like turnover or absenteeism, or is it having an individual dialogue with people?
Yeah. There’s, I mean, there’s so many ways, and again, it depends on the size of the organization. So for example, KPMG did a, a, a organizational-wide survey when they’re trying to uncover why it was that their employees and their, their colleagues and associates found purpose so important. Why was that such a key ingredient to, for their overall ability for their overall drive and motivation to work at KPMG? And so they, they administered system-wide surveys and got feedback from the entire organization to understand the answer to that question. So at the organizational level, the large organization level, you can do internal surveys.
For smaller companies, something as simple as a Google survey, you know, 15 questions. What do you feel? What do you feel is missing in the workplace? Do you trust leadership? How well do you get along with your colleagues? How, how able are you to express your true opinions? So even something as simple as a Google survey, an anonymous Google survey that you can send out to the team gives HR and whoever may be looking at implementing something new, some metric to go by, there’s also plenty of companies. I won’t name them all. We’d be here all day, who do psychological safety surveys, emotional intelligence, surveys, and assessments, which can give you an idea of where your organization is at at the level of emotional intelligence, psychological safety, resilience, and performance. And so there’s all kinds of ways, but again you want to pick the one that’s most conducive for the size of your organization and the makeup of your organization as well.
Sure. That’s like, I love, you know, the conversation around this of how do we figure out why? Because I think it just gives us the opportunity again, to continue to adjust our mindset. And I think many leaders today are still working through that voice. Maybe that says emotions don’t exist and people should be happy that they have a job, especially right now where there’s a lot of economic uncertainty, depending on where you are in the world. You know, it can be hard for some organizations or leaders to even acknowledge that starting with who the individual is, is the right starting point, because there’s the piece of, they should just be happy that we’re here.
Sure. That’s like me saying, Jenn, water isn’t wet. You know, it’s just, it, it, the, the emotions are so critical and key to our performance. And I’ll give it just to give you some interesting metrics. I mean, 95% of our decision-making starts at the unconscious level. And our value structure is located in our limbic brain, which is our emotional brain. Okay. Which is fascinating. A lot of other things that we don’t realize is that again the ability to have higher empathy is one of the key factors in leadership development today. And when I say leadership development, I should say actually leadership progression. If you look at the causative relationship between emotional intelligence development and how hard, how high you rise in an organization, it’s crystal clear that to be successful leader in 2021 and beyond, and over the past several decades, you need a high level of EQ and EI.
So the data is crystal clear. That’s the thing, it’s that there’s no ambiguity in what the data is telling us. If you look at longitudinal studies, global studies where it equates, where you’re looking at emotion, intelligence development on the X axis performance on the Y you see companies that develop EI and EQ same-same, interchangeable, performance improves across the board. And so it is fundamental and vital, and it’s crucial, and we can’t escape it. And there’s different techniques that I use in my workshops to give people sort of an implicit, intuitive understanding of why this is, and then they can’t escape it because they felt it and they realized, oh, yeah, okay. I can’t escape my emotions. But the data’s crystal clear.
So yeah, emotions exist at work. I mean, it’s, I’m passionate about saying about like, getting this out there. It’s not obvious. And there are a lot of people, you know, as we do this work on understanding and understanding how to create psychological safety and understanding emotional intelligence, you know, it’s just that important reminder that we just have to stop shutting down emotions, and we’ve got to start using them as a beautiful indicator for how we can forge deeper connections. So your first piece of like how we begin is understanding where we are. What’s our second step.
First, Understand Your Issue, Then Implement Strategy
Yeah. So once, once you understand, you want to implement something. Okay. So the idea of implementing whatever you do, you want to make sure that something’s done. So wherever your need are addressed the need and implement something, whether that’s, you know, it could be a wellness program that’s six months long, or it could be something like a four day EQ training. Or offsite training for leadership development around emotional intelligence, something like that. It could be team coaching, or it could be a policy change. Okay. So again, based off the need from the initial survey of understanding and getting, meeting your team and your organization where you are. Then implement something that’s most conducive to try and rectify that problem. Okay. And whatever that is, it is going to be, again, very unique to each organization. So I’ve seen some organizations that, for example, their biggest issue was employee dissatisfaction, high turnover rates.
And so what they did was they installed a one-year wellness program that was very multifaceted. It had eating, yoga, mind, body reward, systems, achievement, everything you can almost imagine in a wellness program. And turnover went from 35% to 20% in two years. Isn’t that wonderful, right? That was a great strategy. And so again, it re you know, in, in ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, a lot of companies they’ve taken a family first policy. So when COVID hit, it was, we’re not terminating our people. We’re keeping everybody, even if it’s a reduced salary. And that was, that was something that was addressing the need because the need at the time was I want to have a job that gives me meaning I enjoy this position and they didn’t want to demoralize everybody else in the organization by terminating people.
So they, they went in the communal effort and said, look, we’re willing to keep everybody, if we can take a wage cut of 20%, for example, and that really galvanized and codified it, and brought everybody together in a meaningful way, created that community, that family feel inside of the companies and people still performed well. In fact, in a lot of the instances we saw here in Ho Chi Minh City, the companies that did that performed better. Okay. They perform better during the COVID crisis. The first time I came here, then they did before, which was a really fascinating outcome. So again, implement something based off the needs of your organization, your people and your teams, and that can look different for every organization.
Crestcom is a global organization dedicated to developing effective leaders companies all over the world have seen their managers transformed into leaders through our award-winning and accredited leadership development programs. Our signature BPM provides interactive management training with a results-oriented curriculum and prime networking opportunities. If you’re interested in learning more about our flagship program and developing your managers into leaders, please visit our website to find a leadership trainer near you. Or maybe you yourself have always wanted to train and develop others. Crestcom is a global franchise with ownership opportunities available throughout the world. If you have ever thought about being your own boss, owning your own business, and leveraging your leadership experience to impact businesses and leaders in your community, Crestcom may be the right fit for you. We’re looking for professional executives who are looking for a change and want to make a difference in people’s lives. Learn more about our franchise opportunity on the own franchise page of our website dev.crestcom.com.
The Foundation for Psychological Safety at Work
So, and then just to kind of bring it back for everyone, we’re talking about the foundation. This is creating the foundation of how we can actually have that culture, where our teams are resilient, where people feel psychologically safe. We’ve got to begin with kind of an assessment of our organization, the team, our hierarchy, our individual role, where are we at? What are the challenges that we’re facing? Maybe we’re facing turnover. Maybe we have increased conflict. Maybe we’re just not communicating in that way. Or maybe we’re not healthy. Maybe we’re noticing more absenteeism or mental health challenges. And then take action, implement something based off of what, what you see. So this is the foundation of what you can do. We’ve got to understand our problems, and we’ve got to start addressing them. Where do we go after that, Brad?
Yeah. So once you implement something, you want buy-in and participation at every level of the organization. So here’s where a lot of companies get it wrong and that the staff and the teams feel it, they feel like it’s sort of a, it’s a gesture from leadership to make them a little bit happier, but they feel that it’s hollow. So, for example, I’m not trying to pick on yoga. I love yoga. Okay. But if you’re doing just yoga Fridays and leaders aren’t showing up, managers aren’t showing up, and it just feels like it’s a practice that has been put in place for the sake of doing it. Staff recognize that. Because it’s not getting integrated into the culture of the organization. It’s not permeating and touching people where it needs to. Because real change again, happens at the level of behavior. And that’s really important. So you need to integrate whatever the strategy is at every level of the organization, leadership needs to be bought in, management’s bought in HR is bought in policy changes reflect it, activities reflect it, and ultimately most important, you see a change in behavior with everybody, and then it becomes part of the cultural ethos. I mean, humans, we’re tribal creatures monkey see monkey do okay. It’s really quite simple. When three people in a team start behaving differently, the fourth and fifth are far more likely to do it. And so, again, these ideas, these concepts are spread to the currency of behavior, and it’s crucial in particular at the top leadership that they have buy-in and they’re participating as well. So that cannot be underscored. It’s absolutely essential. And it’s super, super important.
Generating Buy-In for Sustained Behavioral Change
No, absolutely. I mean, at Crestcom, one of our, I guess, beliefs is to use leadership development to get sustained behavior change. But yes, it has to come with buy-in. I have had, well, I’ve had one time when teaching leadership development that there was one person that I think the boss was probably like, I think that this individual would really benefit from leadership development, but yet this person had no interest in doing that. And they were miserable. They would join things with. They would cause everything went to zoom. So they would join with their camera off. I would notice that they weren’t paying attention, and this happened month after month. And no one else in the class had this issue, but yet this person just did not buy into it. And so as novel as the idea may be as, you know, grandiose and beautiful, whether it’s yoga time, whether it’s like, maybe it’s yoga with goats, maybe we’re taking it to the next level or something.
But we have to understand and get the buy-in that we can’t just force actions on people. And yes, people can tell if we’re not being authentic in our approach, like we’re checking a box. Now we can compete because we have this wellness program. Well, why are you doing the wellness program? And is it truly integrated within your culture? Or is it just something that you can say that checks the box? Or is it something that everyone talks about? Because I think, you know, the role, what’s the role of leadership and getting this buy-in from your perspective? Because the role, like we are the ones that are tasked with, how do we get everyone together? And especially now as many organizations are going to hybrid that the research is showing that really the ownership of culture comes down to the leader because not everyone is going to be in the office in the same way. So the leader has more, I would say, of an expectation to really preserve, create the culture, get the buy-in than ever before. How would you, what are some ideas that you have for how to generate buy-in?
Yeah, so that, that’s a really interesting question. And again, I’m going to come down to behavior. And we’re going to talk about this a little bit more. When we talk about development, specific ways we can develop psychological safety, okay. People respond to behavior, you know what I mean? People don’t respond as much to ideas or concepts or philosophies. They respond to behavior because that’s our biology. We’re inherently hard wired to perceive things a certain way and feel things a certain way. And so we respond to things that we perceive, which are in the form of actions and behaviors. So one of the things is, you know, leaders need to appreciate that at the very, at the very least, they need to have a good conceptual understanding of why this program or why this philosophy or why EQ, or why EI is important. Okay. And that’s why sometimes when you’re presenting these ideas, as I do to different levels of the organization, I have a different conversation with HR than I do with the CEO, sometimes very different conversation.
But the point is at the end of the day, they’re bought in for the same reason, they see it as an opportunity for growth. Now, what I would is when you’re having a conversation with the leader, it’s critical that they understand implicitly how important their role is. And a lot of that has to do with education. A lot of that has to do with leadership support. You know, we can’t just expect leaders to go in and, you know become magical intelligence gurus without support and training for themselves. And that’s really, really important. So if we’re going to equip the organization, we also need to simultaneously equip the leadership team. And that’s something that some of the initiatives that were so interesting at Ford, that we saw. So the chairman of Ford and I believe his name was Bill, implemented some mindfulness programs, right at the level of the board of directors.
And he was bought in and everybody started practicing these mindfulness programs. And I believe a few of them were off-site, but that permeated the culture of the company. And that was a, that was a terrific example. Some leaders, again, I’ll backtrack. They need to have a good appreciation of the value of this concept. And then they also need to be empowered to fulfill their role because they are integral to the implementation of these ideas, philosophies, and practices inside of our organization. So make them aware how important it is, empower them because their role is equivalently important. Hope that that helps. Yeah. Yeah,
Iteration – Try and Try Again!
Absolutely! Getting them connected. And it, you know, it comes back to even like, the survey that Google did on team performance, understanding that individuals, if you want a high-performing team and, you know, we have to have dependability structure and clarity in our role. But two of the things that they also found were meaning, purpose and impact. It sounds like, you know, if we want buy-in and we’ve got to start with why. And we’ve got to connect with that meaningful work, and then we also need, you know, the other thing they found is psychological safety. So do you feel like this is our three core way of like the foundation of what we need, we need to do an organizational assessment. We need to take action and then we need to get buy in. Is there anything else that, or that a leader would do after that?
Iterate! You may not get it right. The first time that’s step four, really iterate. It’s like, okay, what went well, what didn’t, how can we improve? But keep going. That’s the idea. And be willing to admit that, you know, things maybe weren’t executed properly, or we could have got better results, or we can try something different. And how do you do that? Get more feedback. So it becomes, you know, it really becomes, in essence, it become a, you know, a positive, positive feedback loop. It’s like, okay, we get the initial assessment, do the implementation, get the buy-in and everybody’s on board and then iterate. What’s working? What isn’t? Let’s try it again, get some more feedback, gets more buy-in. So it becomes, in essence, you want to, as much as you can make it a co-creative process, make the company, or make this culture change, feel like it’s being co-created by everybody. And everybody’s got to say, therefore, they think it’s for them. Therefore the why is much more clear. It’s not topical and superficial. And it doesn’t feel like icing on the cake kind of thing. It really feels like, oh man, this is actually something that is helping and empowering me. And I have a voice and things didn’t go well, but they’re trying, they admit it’s a fault and they keep going. So those are that. That would be my suggestion for you.
Giving and Receiving Feedback—It Takes Practice!
Yeah. So it sounds like it’s like if we’re making an iterative process, then we’re also just completing this process simultaneously or again and again, like you want to, it’s not a set and forget, right. Even needs change. The pandemic showed us that there can be a total disruption to the way that we work, the way that we live. And we got to be able to build in processes or feedback loops so we can address those real-time challenges and changes. So that starting back with that assessment, where are you at? What are you trying to be? What are your challenges and going from there? And I, you know, I just love, again, the, the reinforcement that we have to continuously ask for feedback. And there was someone that had interviewed Hillary Blair on a past podcast episode. And one of the things her background is in theater.
And one thing that’s very, very common. And I believe, hopefully I’m saying this right, but is that, you know, in a cast it’s very common to openly share feedback. Because that’s how together you put together a great performance. But yet, and there’s open and honest feedback. There might be someone that might give you feedback that, oh God, like they might actually give you the real deal of feedback that you need to hear to help the whole performance go off. But yet, when you bring that into a corporate culture sometimes people get afraid to get feedback or there’s too much ego and we don’t step back and look at that big picture. And I think that was just a good reminder, again, that we’ve got to get more comfortable giving each other feedback and to not be afraid of it, understand how to receive it.
I get feedback all of the time. And I’m sure you do too, from being more in a setting where you’re just, I guess more publicly, like, not like a celebrity, but like publicly recognizable, right? Like you’re doing webinars, you’re doing things that, you know, many people might see of you and yet, and then there’s a lot of opinions about who you are. And some of those opinions are really, really helpful and there’s great feedback. And then there are some that I don’t necessarily jive with. I’m glad that someone took the time to do it, but I’m maybe won’t follow it, but we have to get okay with building that competence to say like feedback is just an opportunity to do better.
I think that’s such an important point. And like I said, the pillar of today’s conversation is resilience, which by the way, you and I are talking about that right now. Okay. You, you empower the organization to improve wellness, happiness. Then resilience is a by-product of that. You know what I mean? It emerges from people feeling safe, feeling bought in, people having a sense of purpose. It’s an emergent property. Resilience is a state of being. And so when people feel safe, when people feel they have a voice, when people have that sense of purpose when people are communicating, then resilience is a by-product to that. So just for the listeners, it may not seem that Jenn and I have addressed that question directly, but we have. And so I just wanted to touch that in the idea of feedback is critical and foundational to our second point, which is psychological safety. And that’s a really interesting can of worms in itself.
Why is Psychological Safety So Important?
Yeah, let’s talk about it. But how do you build psychological safety? Because this is, we know that we’ve seen it. So I just referenced Google’s study, which many of you are likely familiar with. I’m all about, you know, what they found of the five characteristics of a top performing team, that psychological safety, it was one of them, but then Microsoft also did another survey from the Microsoft Work Trend Index where they found a supportive culture, which I’m going to go ahead and say again, that comes down to psychological safety. Do I have a place that, you know, people care about me and they don’t just care what we for what I do, but they care about me as an individual. So we know the research is there that psychological safety still relatively a newer concept. Right? I know that when I started my leadership journey twenty years ago, they weren’t talking about psychological safety. They just weren’t. And so it’s, you know, it’s still, I’m going to call it relatively new and maybe a newer expression to some than others, but how do you begin to address psychological safety? Because that, that is big and it’s so important. If you want to maintain your engagement, if you want to reduce turnover, if you want to get buy-in and accomplish your goals, people have to feel safe and secure at work.
Sure. What I’m going to do is, is fundamentally, I’m a coach and I love to ask questions. So I’m going to ask a question to you and to the listeners, because I think this will reify it for them at a more experiential, emotional level. And so Jenn and anyone listening, imagine inside your team or organization, you could share any idea, any concern, any thought, any problem, any feeling with anyone on your team, including your leader. Just take a moment. And you know, if you can’t imagine what that would look like or what that would feel like more importantly, and as a follow-up, how empowered would you feel? What kind of communication barriers could that overcome? And how quickly could you solve problems? You know, I use those questions to bring it home because how many communication issues are, because things are not being communicated to begin with.
Right? I think people just aren’t being raw. How many problems aren’t solved because we don’t get to the root cause and we’re doing things at a topical level? How many conflicts are created because people are misunderstanding each other? And there’s so much more under the surface that’s not getting expressed. How much has performance lowered when people feel disempowered and they don’t feel inspired or motivated to share the real ideas. And for everybody listening, remember in today’s economy, human capital is a critical component. The idea of the knowledge economy, which is ideas, ideas sharing is so fundamental to innovation and creativity today because that’s a cornerstone of where the future’s going. It’s ideas. You know, the idea of human capital as labor, physical labor is quickly fading away. But the idea at least, you know, in the developing countries, and so what’s left human capital as ideas.
So the free flowing of ideas is essential in the team in order to increase creativity, innovation, and competitiveness. So having a culture which nurtures and supports that is absolutely essential. So those of you who are listening, who are a little more analytical looking at KPIs, ideas of results, innovations results, creativity results, navigating challenges. Results makes you more competitive, but you don’t grow green plants and in terrible soil, okay. It doesn’t work that way. So the soil that cultivates that kind of free flowing expression of ideas is psychological safety. And it’s a roundabout way of, and I’m going to get into how we build that now. But I just wanted to start with that because I want people listening to appreciate that on an experiential level on what psychological safety is or what it could be when it’s done right?
Yeah, absolutely. I found myself as you were asking those questions, being like, yeah! You know, and sometimes it’s not even like this, because psychological safety doesn’t have to look like, maybe just feeling like, oh my gosh, I’m afraid to share my ideas. That is one piece of it. But psychological safety can be like, I don’t know, like last time I shared an idea like this, it didn’t go well. So I’m just not going to do it anymore because I just don’t want to engage in it. So it doesn’t have to be that deep. So just as people are thinking, this can sound like a very heavy topic. If we’re looking at behaviors, it could just be someone that’s like, I’m not even sure if this is worth messing with anymore. And when we do that, then yes, like it changes our ability to adapt.
It changes our ability to address challenges. I think the piece that happens for me most often in an organization would be feeling like over time, your ideas aren’t heard, they aren’t valued. And so then you just stop and you just kind of watch. Like, you’re like not my circus, not my monkeys. However that expression goes and you just kind of watch as like an onlooker and say, well, just give me my marching orders and I will go and do this. And yeah. Then that’s a very disenfranchised way of maybe living and doing my role. I want to say that because I do think sometimes people think of the concept of psychological safety as like, you know, really, really heavy. Like we have to make sure that we’re addressing that emotional component. It can be small actions that we’re telling people we don’t care.
Psychological Safety Starts With Organizational Culture
Sure. And you know, the idea is psych safety can be easy to build, but even easier to break. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit. Yeah. And I just want to share Amy Edmondson’s definition because I really enjoy it. And she said psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. I don’t think that’s a great definition. And if we look at, and again to reify with psych safety is, let’s look at psych danger. So psych danger is fear of admitting mistakes. It’s blaming others. Team members are less likely to share different views. And this allows group dynamics to affect the poor. It leads to poor decision-making, which, and then that whole loop repeats. Then you get more fear of admitting mistakes, et cetera, psych safety people are comfortable admitting mistakes.
They’re okay. Learning from failures, it’s normalized, everyone openly shares ideas. It’s part of the culture. And then you get better innovation and decision-making, and the study that you pointed out before; again, psych safety was not only a part of that. It was foundational. And by far the most critical component, which was a really interesting result from, from the study that they did. And so it, it really is the most significant predictor of high-performance teams. And it is in essence, the edge, some of the ways that we can build that directly through behaviors that we can start doing immediately. And I’m going to stop. I’m going to first talk short-term strategies and then long-term strategies. Okay.
Some short-term strategies are really quite simple. Okay. So like modeling fallibility. And so what a leader can begin to do, or a manager can begin to do, or the team can begin to do is admit that they don’t have all the answers. And what that does is it creates a culture where there’s permission to help people, Jenn, I need your help. And I say to you, I need your help on this. Or I might miss something, ah, you’re bought in to help me. And I’m acknowledging the fact that I need you and you need me. I could say, you know, I’m not so good at details, Jenn. So your job is very important. You’re far more detailed than me. That’s what I need you for. So invite the input that, and just be candid that you can’t do it alone. That’s a great way to model fallibility and vulnerability to a great, I mean, I have lots of tips here, but embrace messengers. When people speak up. Yeah. So when people speak up, you know, point to problems and offer ideas and concerns, even if it’s sometimes contrary to status quo, thank them and make it a very positive experience for them.
So you want to reinforce that in a very positive way. If somebody’s voicing a concern and opinion, encourage it. Thank you so much. That’s really appreciated. Awesome. Never punished the messenger and embrace and celebrate the messenger. Like you said earlier, be open to feedback. Number one, problem. I get management training, Jenn, they always say, Brad, how can I build a culture of feedback? And then they, they immediately, what they do is I train them on it. I see them a month later and they come back and they say, nobody’s doing it. They’re not listening to me. And I say, are you accepting feedback first? They say, no, no. I thought everybody else did. I say no, you have to model it and be open to it yourself. That’s something you can do and behave in a way that says an invite it, what can I do differently? How can I do better guys? What can we do differently next time? How can this project go more smoothly? So be open to feedback personally and professionally about tasks and about yourself.
Embrace the Messengers
Like, I just want to let him going back to maybe my 20 year old self. When I think about embracing messengers, I worked at a culture where, and I wouldn’t say it was broad. Like this was maybe a systemic issue throughout the organization, but I will say it wasn’t the specific department that I worked in, but even just sharing suggestions or opinions. I cannot even tell you how I, and I had worked with this organization for four years in two different areas. I had had a lot of success. And then all of a sudden I found myself in a new division with new leadership. And what I found there is that there was so much ego, so much that the ego from the executive leadership at the top really shut down any ability for anyone to offer ideas when you would offer ideas.
I cannot tell you how many times that I would get the look of, do what I told you to do. And that’s just so disenchanting. And then it also would be like, in my head, I’m like, why are we doing some of these things? Or explain the why to me in a way that I can understand it, because for the workload that you’re wanting, this is going to be something that we’re going to do for a week. Like, is this realistic? Is it actually going to be executed? Probably not. Or I think of just different things that I can think of this leader. And they just were never receptive to things. If it did not come and originate from their own idea, it could never, it could never work. And matter of fact, if you had something contrary or something that wasn’t in alignment, then you were seen. And that’s why I was seen as kind of like this black sheep, like, oh Jenn, like, you’re just trying to ruffle the feathers. You’re not falling in line.
And I mean, I know our listeners have heard, I’ve gotten experience from that same organization or feedback. That’s like, you need to be working with more vanilla and more of a yes man. And that should be the Testament of like, that’s a culture that doesn’t support the messenger, right? Like if you’re going to, if you’re giving employees your feedback to be more vanilla, clearly you do not want them to have a point of view. And just that perpetuated this disengagement and just like, oh my gosh, does leadership even exist? Is that just a myth that they taught us early on to get us to like be inspired at work? You know, there was just so many and the mental health challenges that came from that.
So just being mindful of the role that ego plays. And then I said, what if we did, I like to say like, look at everyone as if we’re all like kids in the playground. Like, we’re all just trying to figure out the task. We’re all happy. We are so innocent and pure and you know, trying to do our best that we don’t have to maybe take it as this like me versus you. Like, we’re just all trying to do our best and work together. That’s my, my side tangent. And it came from my own place of pain. So yeah. Embrace the messengers, like drop your ego trust that people are- assume positive intent trust that people want to do. What’s best by you, the team and the organization.
Check Your Ego – Building Self-Awareness
Yeah. Fantastic point. What I would say to that is, and I had an interview with a CEO today, and he was really talking about servant leadership at the end of the day. It’s our, it’s our role to serve our clients, the community, the organization, and our team members. And he means that holistically, it wasn’t just a talking point. He embodies this through and through. And what can that look like? Sometimes it looked like shared success and shared credit. So if you have someone who wants all the credit wants all the accomplishments, wants all the fame, it’s going to disempower the people around. You give people the, you know, give people successes, give them quick wins, and then they go, okay. Oh, that was my idea. Wonderful. You know, because sometimes in leadership, their suggestion becomes a commandment. So allow people to own their own ideas and give them credit for it really shared credit is wonderful, great tips that, you know, there’s a few more long-term stuff, which really helps in all of this in particular, if you want to build high-performing teams and organizations is building self-awareness and self-regulation.
Understanding yourself is extremely important to growth. You know what I mean? A lot of this stuff is topical and behavioral, but if you start to build self-awareness and self-regulation the application of everything that we just said, come so much easier. It’s just a by-product of who you are and who you’re being. And so the developer development of EQ and EI and organizations is a big part of what I do is really, really important. It’s crucial. Managing emotions and staying calm is essential for engagement in building psychological safety, because let’s admit Jenn and you’re right. I’ve received a lot of feedback, when you’re not used to it at first, it can hurt. And you have to find ways to deal with that, which requires self-awareness self-regulation. And so those would be my, my, my quick and long-term strategies for building psych safety.
And I’ve done quite a bit of research. A lot. And I’ve looked at all the meta-analyses and the major leading studies in the world. So sort of encapsulate this into a couple of phrases that make sense for people. And I call it, Brad’s not-so-boring summary of the research. Okay. So I’ll, I’ll say save you the boring analytics and all this stuff that I had to read to get to this, but in short, and I’ll define one more term to hear psychological capital, that’s individual performance. That’s the individual resilience. Psychological capital is made of four components- self-efficacy or the belief people have to perform and do well, the confidence they have in themselves, hope, resilience and optimism. And so it’s so important to make sure that the individual has a lot of hope, a lot of optimism, a lot of resilience and a strong sense of self-efficacy. And that can be built at the level of the individual and the level of the team and concurrently the really positive feedback mechanisms.
And when you look at all the research and you sum it down and distill it like I did, I found that emotional intelligence. So EQ development, EI development at the individual, the team, and the organization, as it applies to building both psychological capital, which is our ability to feel good and perform well, and psychological safety, which is what we’ve been talking about- team resilience, shared ideas, performance innovation, creativity- is a critical factor in building organizational performance and competitiveness. So I’ll really say it again. As we build individual and team EI and EQ, psych capital goes up, that’s our ability to do things effectively and perform well and feel good. Psych safety goes up, which is the teams. Interdynamics the energy, the ability to innovate, create, communicate, and produce amazing results. And together that produces increases in organizational performance. And so I hope that was clear. And it made sense,
Taking Responsibility For Your Choices
You know, just as a reminder of we’re talking about psychological safety, I love the strategies admit that you don’t have the answers, like show that you’re human. People want to work for humans, not robots and embrace that messenger. And then also you had suggested like the long-term like, you know, as an individual, you’ve got to take responsibility for how you show up. You have to also understand the role that your ego plays in things. I know that in my twenties, in my career, I was far more egocentric than I am today. I don’t necessarily need all the credit. I don’t want, I don’t even do great with accepting positive feedback anymore because I’m like, why do you need me to do, to do better, but understanding that it’s on us and that we can change the way that we work, we can change what work actually feels like when we start with ourselves. And my work as a coach, it’s similar for your work.
As a coach, it’s starting with understanding our choices. How do you want work to be, you know, work can be the thing that you love, or it can be the thing that you love, but you’ve got to build that self-Awareness to understand what are your triggers, what are the things that are working, not working, and take responsibility. Stop living the, this is my bosses fault. And I don’t want to actually marginalize that because there are a lot of things that managers can do that disrupt their workplace. But we do also have to understand that the power that we have is in how we respond, but really focusing on self-efficacy. So thinking about psychological safety, you know, how are you building people’s confidence in their roles? You know, you talked about throughout this, like understanding and getting that, buy-in helping them understand the why. The why they are there. Really building that support and helping them say like, yeah, absolutely. I’m of needed valued person. And so I, yeah, just long story short to kind of recap. Yes, absolutely it made total sense, Brad. What closing comments would you want to share with our listeners?
I would always say, I want to double down on what you said. Because fundamentally, personal empowerment, you know, responsibility breeds, empowerment. And so for anybody here who is possibly in a toxic work environment, look at yourself first. I’m not saying that the culture can’t change or the manager can’t change. I’m not saying that at all. But always look inwards and see how we can reframe how we can change our perception, how we can embolden ourselves and embody ourselves and how we can improve our happiness wellbeing. Take a deep look at the decisions, behaviors, and thoughts that you have first, because sometimes what I find is a lot of the issues. Again, they go away. When the individual’s perspective changes when they’re feeling good, when their life outside of work is balanced. Marshall Goldsmith did a lot of work on this in the early, early years when he was developing his brand.
And he was looking at people’s satisfaction score outside of work and satisfaction score inside of work, strong correlation. They’re not satisfied out. They won’t be satisfied in. So look at yourself, build psychological capital, mindfulness, resilience, training, yoga, health, whatever it is for. You always make us, you know, a diligent effort to improve who you are personally and professionally. It’s immensely rewarding. I’m going to double down on Jenn with that, for sure. Absolutely. Second, start somewhere. You know what I mean? Start for leaders and managers in HR- start somewhere. It’s okay. Even if it’s baby steps, start somewhere, okay, we can assess. Then we can implement. Then everybody gets buy in and then we iterate, but we have to start somewhere. And so having an intention is great. Having an action is better. Because then we get to start to move in the direction that we want to go. And remember psych safety. And what we’re talking about is spread to the currency of behavior, not ideas or information. Behavior. When we change the behavior of the leader, the manager then, and the team, the whole organizational behavior changes. And what emerges from that is better performance, better wellbeing, better happiness, just a great culture. All around humans are the future in 2021 and beyond. Take care of the human capital by psych safety, psych capital, and your organization will not see and end to creativity, innovation, and that all comes from happiness. So those are my closing thoughts.
Where to Find Brad Reed
Yeah. Don’t just talk about it, be about it. You know, as a leader, like actions speak louder than words. There’s a reason that these expressions have become popular and stayed around. Think about the power of your actions, Brad, how do people get in touch with you?
Yeah. Great question. You can find me on LinkedIn. It’s quite easy. Brad Reed, or I love getting emails as LinkedIn’s my main medium to communicate with people, emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perfect. They can also find it in the show notes, I’ll find it in the show notes. No worries. Thank you so much for joining us on The Leadership Habit podcast today. It was great to have you. I hope that listeners are walking away with just different ideas, different inspiration for how they can create a truly more resilient and psychologically safe environment for all to thrive. Thank you so much.
Jenn. My absolute pleasure. Thank you for being a terrific host. Thank you.
Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast. If you want to connect with Brad, you can go to repurpose-you.com or you can also email him at email@example.com. Or you can connect with him at LinkedIn. And of course it’s https://www.linkedin.com/in/brad-reed. Now you can also find this information in our show notes. If you enjoyed this week’s episode of the leadership pivot podcast and know someone that could benefit, please share it with them together. We rise. And of course, if you enjoyed it, don’t forget to leave us a review on your favorite podcast, streaming service and last, but certainly not least. If your organization is looking for leadership development, please reach out to us. We offer a complimentary to our leadership skills building workshop and would love to help develop your team.