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Penny Power Ponders the rise in the need for Psychological Safety

Hello and thank you for joining me this week with my ponderings. Many of you know me well enough to know that I am not an academic person, I write from experience; my ‘wisdom’ comes from my curiosity, and my life experiences. I hope this means I am relatable, with my feet firmly on the ground of life and business, still striving, still learning, and still finding people far more fascinating than books!

I am a curious observer and I rely on moments in my journey through life to teach me the things I need to learn. Leading communities has been the best way for me to learn about people, it has been a truly beautiful way to live my life.

This week, following a talk for HSBC, I was curious about how many times the words ‘psychological safety’ came up, on a search term the words were searched 649 millions times.

We all want to feel safe, in fact, as a ‘Community Builder’ I know how critical it is for everyone to feel safe to be themselves, without the fear of ridicule, or embarrassment. I believe we only grow when we are able to ask for help and share our needs with others. Brene Brown is known for her books and talks on the power of being vulnerable. Somehow, I have never feared this, I was the child at school that asked ‘why’ and ‘how’ and ‘can you explain that more’, teachers got cross with me, peers laughed at me, but I was determined to learn, and books didn’t work for me.

I have never feared sharing my pain, challenges and I have always levelled out any environment by showing that I am far from perfect, I am far from the cleverest person in the room.

How have I created that sense of safety? I guess through my own need to thrive and learn from others. I need love, and one way I feel it, is when someone helps me.

So when I am asked about how I have achieved psychologically safe environments, my reply is that I lead with my own pain, vulnerabilities, needs, fears, and dreams. In doing this, I set the culture for others to feel safe.

I have never enjoyed places where people need to puff out their chests and beat them, like a gorilla showing its strength. The desperate aspect of this is that everyone has to become a chest thumping gorilla to feel they belong. This is how everyone ends up focused on an identity they want to hold and not their truth.

I respect that psychological safety is an enormous topic, touching on inclusion, respecting people’s wellbeing, enabling diversity and ensuring that leaders lead with compassion with the expectations of their staff. I guess here, I am suggesting that each of us be the change that we want, to be brave and real and see what happens. I deeply believe in eliminating the environments that are not working for us, and we can never really know that unless we become that culture in our own behaviour.

So this week, be braver than you may have been before, have the courage to share something with someone, ask for help, show a weakness, see how it feels and discover whether that person should be in your life or not.

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