* Moral curiosity is being motivated to seek knowledge for greater understanding to improve capability or performance instead of merely being content to possess the basic information needed to achieve a short-term outcome.
Psychological Safety and Accountability
We need to establish a strong balance between creating a safe environment and ensuring accountability for actions and performance. A safe environment does not mean an environment free from consequence or pressure. Without these things we risk disinterest without the drive to improve and perform at our best. Meanwhile too much accountability can nurture fear and anxiety.
Key actions for tackling negative feelings
Schein and Bennis (1965) 5 discussed the need to create psychological safety for individuals if they are to feel secure and capable of changing. More recently, Schein (1985) 6 argued that psychological safety helps people overcome
the defensiveness, or “learning anxiety”, that occurs when people are presented with data that does not support their expectations or hopes.
Team psychological safety is distinct from group cohesiveness, research has shown that cohesiveness can reduce willingness to disagree and challenge others’ views. Psychological safety describes a climate in which the focus can be on transparency through productive discussion that enables early prevention of problems and the accomplishment of shared goals.
Teams that actively practice and nurture transparent working methods can be identified by the following characteristics:
Open communication and sharing of feelings
- Honest provision of information and progress
Constructive feedback is sought and welcomed
- Respect between team members and swift conflict resolution
Admitting wrongdoing and openly seeking assistance for mistakes or problems
To foster a transparent, trust-based culture within your team, start with small changes and build-up a transparency strategy over time. Choose one subject on which everyone has to be regularly updated, and let it be your starting position. Follow-up with your team and check how they feel about this initial change, you can then adjust your strategy accordingly before building on further topics.
Returning to Work and Building Trust
In the coming weeks and months, you will be drawing on all of your leadership skills to help your team navigate through rapid changes and new working practices.
Indicators: Unclear on the need to change, resistant to change, selective listening and responding, cynicism.
Leader approach: Adopt a directive approach. Focus on telling, explaining, informing, listening, instructing, asking questions and providing feedback.
Remain calm and supportive, be understanding of the position the individuals are in. Support, instruct, show and demonstrate how things should be done and listen to and observe the actions of your team members. Provide gentle and considered feedback on some specific things, where doing so will be helpful and constructive.
Indicators: Moral and productivity decline, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, anger, frustration and confusion, sadness, depression, helplessness, reactive behaviour.
Leader approach: Progress through the steps shown earlier in this article to foster psychological safety.
Understanding and acknowledging the mindset and morale that an individual is experiencing can help you to understand how to lead them to success. Understanding the range of emotions and responses individuals have when experiencing change is crucial as is best depicted by the Kubler-Ross Change Curve.
Indicators: A sense that things may work out OK, less negativity, moral and productivity begin to rise, understanding roles and goals, solutions oriented, sense of achievability.
Leader approach: Support, counsel, show empathy and listen well. Start to empower team members by setting short term goals and providing space to deliver them in their own way.
Indicators: Teamwork, roles, goals and linkages are clear. High productivity, positive mindset, excited to come to work. High self-esteem, changes lead to breakthrough results.
Leader approach: Increasingly step away and give people space to perform and own their tasks. Adopt a more coaching approach to leadership. See your role as being to facilitate the success of others. Share ideas, provide feedback, advise and look at ways that you can stretch individuals to improve their performance and development.
To reach a high performance, engaged and productive state we need to help individual team members to let go of limiting mindsets and embrace a forward-thinking approach.