HR Service Delivery

Do self aware leaders create psychologically safe environments?

by BeTalent
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This blog intends to look at self-awareness and psychological safety to see if there is a link. Let’s start by looking at each concept. 

The Importance of Being Self-Aware 

Being attentive to your colleagues and aware of your own emotions, is key to emotional intelligence and is crucial for creating healthy working relationships at work. A healthy level of self and other awareness can improve a persons’ understanding of their surroundings and the people they work with. Self-aware people, tend to be more observant of themselves and others, they are also often more open to flexing and adapting their behaviour to improve and grow professionally (Hackston, 2019). 

What is Psychological Safety? 

Psychological safety describes the environment in which members of a group or team feel safe to be able to take interpersonal risks. In a psychologically safe environment, anyone feels able to be themselves and speak up without fearing rejection or humiliation for their unique ideas, beliefs, and opinions. Moreover, group members can raise issues and ask for help because they feel mutually supportive. Mistakes are not held against people and, as a result, an environment that provides psychological safety is a fertile ground for innovation. 

Do Self-Aware Managers Create a Safer Environment? 

We know that self-awareness can help people become more honest with themselves and to others, which would in theory help to bring about a sense of psychological safety in the work environment. 

This was proven to be the case by research conducted by Hernandez et al (2015). They found that there is a significant relationship between psychological safety and managerial self-awareness, which emphasises the importance of being self-aware in the workplace in order to truly have a psychologically safe environment so that employees can succeed and innovate. 

Logically this makes sense, the more self-aware managers are more likely to speak human-to human and replace blame with curiosity (Delizonna, 2017), they are also more likely to be role modelling an awareness of their strengths, gaps, weaknesses, mistakes and opportunities for growth. They are therefore, more likely to take responsibility for their actions, or admit that a mistake was made. This responsibility and honesty requires emotional awareness, resilience and control, and without this, it would be difficult to create a psychologically safe environment. 

All of this of course works, because being self-aware increases a persons’ understanding of how colleagues view them, which can allow them to adapt emotionally and develop leadership skills that would improve the level of psychological safety. 

In conclusion, this research would suggest that self-aware leaders are more likely to create safe environments for teams to flourish. For further information about our Psychological Safety Accreditation training, please go to: https://www.betalent.com/accreditation or to register for our Psychological Safety and Cognitive Diversity Event please go to: https://www.linkedin.com/events/6787719027537018880/ 

This post was drafted by Eshal Kashif, A Level Work Experience and adapted by Dr Amanda Potter, from BeTalent who are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Talent & Performance Management floor of the Technology Hall. You can visit their virtual space here.


References 

Hackston, J. (2019). Why self-awareness is essential to workplace success. HRD Connect (11th September) 

Delizonna, L. (2017) High-performing teams need psychological safety. Here’s how to create it Harvard Business Review (24th August 2017) 

Hernandez, Luthanen, Ramsel and Osatuke (2015) The mediating relationship of self-awareness on supervisor burnout and workgroup Civility & Psychological Safety: A multilevel path analysis.