Psychological safety is a group psychological phenomenon described by Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School. It is a condition created within work groups where people feel they are allowed to speak-out, dissent, contradict, make mistakes, and take risks. Edmondson's research, along with that of many others, suggests that psychological safety is essential to high-reliability organizations. All organizations―no matter how technical or industrial its operations, no matter how proscribed its procedures, no matter how precise its engineered systems―are complex human systems. In other words, they have autonomous but nested systems that influence each other in sometimes imperceptible ways... leading to unexpected outcomes. Psychological safety is cultivated―or destroyed―in the complex interplay of human systems. For example, an emotionally charged exchange can influence a particular interpretation of a policy, resulting in a passive aggressive act of compliance that drives a social-norm reinforcing emotionally-defensive thinking patterns. It's very easy for leaders to become frustrated with the mercurial dynamics of human systems, especially when struggling to adapt to change, respond to innovatively to opportunities and threats, and operate safely in ambiguous and uncertain environments. I help leaders not only to create psychological safety, but also to identify barriers to psychological safety in their policies, processes, role definition, measurement, and communication norms. I offer workshops, webinars and group coaching for leadership teams, operational teams, and safety managers.
John Mayer and Peter Salovey conceptualized emotional intelligence as a set of cognitive skills and abilities, which research has confirmed are essential to leadership, collaboration and problem-solving. But how do we learn these skills and, more importantly, put them into effective practice? Emotional resilience is a practice by which we continually develop and hone our emotional self-awareness, self-regulation, as well as our interpersonal and leadership skills. Emotional resilience is fundamental to safety leadership, safe work practices, organizational agility, and cultivating a psychologically safe work environment. I have curated a set of techniques and practices from the fields of neuroscience, cognitive behavioral psychology, positive psychology and communication and learning sciences that provide a practical and effective way to foster emotional resilience in organizations. I offer workshops, webinars and group coaching on emotional resilience for high-reliability organizations.
High-reliability organizations are complex systems driven by meaning, held together by relationships and operating on trust. To manage complex social relationships leaders must have cognitive complexity―a social-cognitive ability identified by a pioneer of cognitive psychology, George Kelly. Cognitive complexity is the ability to differentiate and integrate multiple perspectives. It is fundamental to leveraging the creative abilities of diverse teams, to solve complex problems that require both/and solutions, and to recognize the innovative opportunities in ambiguous, uncertain and volatile environments. Highly proceduralized work tends to drive cognitive simplicity, seeing things linearly and in black and white. This can create dangerous blind spots in high-hazard work and inhibit the dynamic learning that is needed to be adaptable in a volatile work environment. There are many ways leaders can cultivate cognitive complexity in their team practices and operations, increasing safety capacity without threat to compliance. I offer workshops, webinars and group coaching to develop cognitive complexity and build a greater capacity for resilient operations.
Every safety professional has come face-to-face with the paradox of performance: safety versus efficiency. These two things seem to be at odds with each other, but in fact they are interdependent. If your organization has ever chosen one over the other, you know the futility of trying to solve paradoxical tensions with either/or solutions. Many organizations have been caught in this group psychological trap, but research has shown paradoxical tensions such as these actually to be the springboard for high-performance through learning, creativity and innovation. But to be able to develop both/and solutions to safety and efficiency, certain cognitive and emotional skills are needed. My initial research into this area has suggested that cognitive complexity and emotional intelligence work hand-in-hand to enable leaders to embrace paradox and benefit from it. Paradox management leverages psychological safety, emotional resilience and cognitive complexity to help organizations move quickly from stuck to thriving. I help leaders harness the power of paradox through workshops webinars and group coaching.