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As a leadership coach, it’s important to understand psychological safety and how it applies to the workplace. Psychological safety, a term coined by Harvard professor Amy Edmonson in 1999, is the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. A psychologically safe workplace culture encourages people to feel comfortable taking risks and being creative without fearing negative consequences.

Today, leaders are under more pressure than ever to create cultures of trust, transparency, and inclusion. The Great Resignation has taught us that employees are no longer content to work in cultures where they feel like they can’t speak up, be themselves, or trust their leaders. But creating a psychologically safe workplace doesn’t happen by accident. It requires intention and effort from leadership. Fortunately, leadership coaches are uniquely positioned to help their clients create and sustain cultures of psychological safety. Today, The Academies shares three ways leadership coaches can empower their clients to create a safe and inclusive workplace.

Coaching leaders how to communicate effectively

Coach Leaders to Communicate With Transparency and Vulnerability

Leaders who want to create psychologically safe cultures must first learn to communicate with transparency and vulnerability. This means being open about their mistakes, sharing their fears and doubts, and admitting when they don’t have all the answers. Cultural change starts at the top, so it’s important for leaders to model the behavior they want to see in their teams. 

Leadership coaches can help their clients practice communicating with vulnerability through powerful questions and active listening. By coaching leaders to become more aware of their communication patterns, coaches can help them shift from transactional to transformational conversations that build trust and connection. 

A leader providing feedback to an employee

Help Leaders Learn How to Give Effective Feedback

Giving feedback is one of the most important — and difficult — things a leader can do. In order to create a culture of psychological safety where people want and are ready to receive feedback, leaders must give feedback that is timely, actionable, and delivered in a manner that encourages growth. Feedback should be given regularly — both when things are going well and when there is room for improvement — in order to maintain a culture of trust and openness. Leaders who share feedback in an intentional and thoughtful way show that they value their team’s input and want them to be successful.

Leadership coaches can help their clients hone their feedback skills by role-playing different scenarios and coaching them on how to give feedback that is specific, objective, and non-judgmental. With the help of a coach, leaders can learn how to give feedback that motivates employees to do their best work without making them feel defensive or overwhelmed. Not only that, but coaches can also help leaders develop powerful questions to ask their team members to ensure they are giving feedback that is actually received and can motivate growth and development.

A smiling business leader with her colleagues

Help Leaders Develop an Awareness of Their Impact

It’s more important than ever for leaders to be aware of their impact on their teams. Leadership coaches can help their clients develop impact awareness by practicing brain-friendly strategies like active listening, mindfulness, and reflection. 

  • Active listening allows leaders to notice verbal and non-verbal cues that provide valuable insights into how their message is being received. 
  • Mindfulness enables leaders to observe their thoughts and feelings in the moment to calmly and effectively respond, rather than reacting impulsively. 
  • Reflection allows leaders to step back from a situation and examine it more objectively. Doing so can help them see things they didn’t notice in the moment and identify patterns in their behavior that may be ineffective or even harmful.

Coaching leaders to be more aware of their impact using strategies like these can help them learn from their mistakes, make positive changes in their behavior over time, and model better behavior to form more authentic relationships with their teams.

Make a Difference Through Leadership Coaching

As a leadership coach, you play an important role in supporting your clients to help them create a psychologically safe workplace. By helping them create a culture of trust and respect, you can help your clients promote creativity and innovation, improve team performance, enhance employee well-being, and provide a better overall experience for leaders and employees — all of which can lead to increased success for their organizations. 

If you would like to learn more coaching strategies to help leaders and their organizations thrive, be sure to explore The Academies’ leadership coaching courses to earn your professional coaching certification. Register for an upcoming coaching course today!