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IMI Insights

9th Jul 2021

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Recommended Reading: Psychological Safety

The IMI Knowledge Centre is open to all current programme participants and IMI Corporate Members. The articles For more on IMI Corporate Membership, go here.

IMI Leaders’ Toolkit

How to Create Psychological Safety

The desire to feel safe is a basic psychological need – in fact, you’ll find it right bang in the middle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model. While workplaces go to great lengths to ensure employees’ physical safety, can the same be said for our psychological safety? This article takes a look at what the term means, and how to foster it in your team.

View in IMI Leaders’ Toolkit


The Fearless Organization
Expert Interview with Amy Edmondson, author of ‘The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth’

Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, who has studied psychological safety for decades, sits down with Rachel Salaman. In this audio interview, Amy chats about where the term psychological safety came from, how its definition has evolved over time and why the group leader is critical to embedding it.

View in IMI Leaders’ Toolkit


Articles and research papers

Putting Technology in its Place: Design Thinking’s Social Technology at Work
by J. Liedtka, California Management Review, Volume 62, Issue 2, 02/2020

In this paper, the author focuses on design thinking and how it can be a critical facilitator of new technologies while being a technology in its own right. Liedtka argues that it is a social technology that encourages more productive innovation conversations that are strategically valuable for dynamic capability building. By overcoming social and psychological barriers, particularly psychological safety, her work investigates how design thinking can accelerate progress on critical imperatives. allowing innovators at all levels to sense new opportunities; seize them by overcoming cognitive biases and aligning stakeholders; and transform and reconfigure resources.

View in IMI Knowledge Centre 



Linking Leader Inclusiveness to Work Unit Performance: The Importance of Psychological Safety and Learning From Failures
by R. Hirak et al, The Leadership Quarterly, Volume 23, Issue 1, 02/2012

In this paper, the authors focus on how a leader’s behaviour influences learning processes. By conducting an analysis of data collected at a large hospital, they find that leader inclusiveness is positively associated with members’ perceptions of psychological safety, and that this relationship is stronger for members in low-performing units. They also uncover how a psychologically safe climate appears to facilitate learning from failures and how that has a positive effect on downstream work.

View in IMI Knowledge Centre


Supervisor-subordinate proactive personality congruence and psychological safety: A signaling theory approach to employee voice behavior
by M. Xu et al, The Leadership Quarterly, Volume 30, Issue 4, 08/2019

This study explores the joint effects of supervisor and subordinate proactive personality on subordinate voice behavior through subordinate perceived psychological safety. The authors highlight that organisations should focus more on creating conditions, perhaps through supervisor-focused changes, that engender psychological safety as opposed to focusing attention exclusively on proactive traits exhibited by employees.

View in IMI Knowledge Centre

Other sources

High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create it

by L. Delizonna, Harvard Business Review, 08/2017

Using Google as an example, the author Laura Delizonna shares some insights on how to increase psychological safety in your teams, including speaking to them human to human, replacing blame with curiosity and consciously measuring psychological safety.

Read the full article



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