Creating Psychological Safety at Work

Published May 14, 2020
This article is a part of The Global Leadership Summit Faculty Spotlight series where we feature content from the upcoming #GLS20 speakers. This is a great opportunity to get a taste of what to expect from these amazing leaders!


Amy Edmondson, one of Harvard University’s most respected management thought leaders, will be joining us for #GLS20. Her work focuses on teamwork and the ways leaders can build teams to work more effectively together.

In the three-minute video below, Dr. Edmondson shares some of the groundbreaking insights from her new book, The Fearless Organization.


Recently, Google did a massive four-year story to discover the differentiator between great teams and not-so-great teams.

The biggest differentiator—by far—was psychological safety.

That was stunning news to me.

I think of Google as being full of unbelievably smart people who wouldn’t necessarily have a problem sharing what they’re thinking.

But it turns out—no. Even at Google, the safety people felt varied greatly from team to team. And that made all the difference.

We live in a knowledge economy. It is the knowledge people bring with them to work that really adds value in the marketplace.

So, it stands to reason that we need to hear from people.

And yet, the research is overwhelming—many people feel they can’t speak up at work.

We’re losing enormous value.

  • We may be missing out on a game-changing idea.
  • We might miss an early warning of a threat in the market.

When a leader apologizes for not having made it safe in the past, it can be very powerful.

Rather than reacting spontaneously with, “why didn’t you come to me?” leaders should take the time to ask how they may have contributed to their employees not feeling safe to speak up.

Most employees are well-intentioned and smart. If employees don’t speak up, we can almost always assume the leader has not created a psychologically safe environment.

The ability for people to speak up at work is absolutely mission critical to success in a knowledge economy.


Join Amy Edmondson and 14 other world-class speakers for The Global Leadership Summit on Thursday and Friday, August 6-7, 2020. Get ready for your two-day infusion of fresh ideas, actionable concepts, leadership principles and heartfelt inspiration from a world-class faculty!

Click this button to register for The Global Leadership Summit 2020.



About the Author
Amy Edmondson is speaking at The Global Leadership Summit 2020.

Amy Edmondson

Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management

Harvard Business School

Amy Edmondson has been recognized by the biannual Thinkers50 global list of top management thinkers since 2011. She is the author of four books, including Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy, exploring why teamwork is so important in today’s organizations—and why it is so challenging. Her most recent release: The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth offers practical guidance for teams and organizations who are serious about finding success in today’s modern economy.

Years at GLS 2020

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