Transform Your Team w/ Psychological Safety

6 science-backed methods proven to make your team stronger

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.

Henry Ford
[3-min read]

In my 22 years of corporate leadership, the team was everything.

My personal mantra: “Success is a byproduct of helping others.” Nowhere does this play out more than in team dynamics.

In December 2017, I was a division president leading a 400-person business unit.

One afternoon, our CEO called, saying he was in town and wanted to meet for dinner.

It was unusual. You can imagine the thoughts racing through my head.

We met at the restaurant. Shortly after ordering, he said, “You must be wondering why we’re here.”

“Absolutely,” was my immediate reply.

He continued, “Our CIO role has been vacant for 7 months. The team is in disarray, and people are leaving left and right.

I know IT is not your background, but I want you to take on the role. With your experience, I’m confident you’ll stabilize the situation.

Then, I want you to create real synergies between IT and the business.”

His request surprised and intrigued me. After sleeping on it, I accepted the next day.

He was right about the challenges:

  • Low morale

  • High turnover

  • Short-staffed team

  • Frustrated internal customers

To complicate matters, the team was skeptical about reporting to a new CIO without tech experience.

I knew I needed to get them focused and moving forward together.


By listening. Being authentic. Showing them I cared.

I needed to establish psychological safety. Then they’d be more open to the future vision we could create together.

I was upfront: I didn’t have all the answers. I needed them as much as they needed me.

If they’d trust me, I’d stand up for them. And I did.

Building Psychological Safety

Whether you’re leading a work project, sports team, or community group, creating a psychologically safe environment is the foundation of effective teamwork.

Here are 6 science-backed ways to earn your team’s trust:

1. Active Listening: Ensure everyone is heard. This sends the signal that their opinions are valued.

Example: Ask at least 2 questions before giving your opinion. It reinforces the idea that listening is twice as important as speaking.

2. Openness to Ideas: Create a platform where all ideas, however unconventional, can be discussed. This sparks innovation.

Example: Implement a “No Judgment Zone” during brainstorming sessions where any idea, no matter how out-of-the-box, is welcomed.

3. Vulnerability is Strength: Encourage team members to admit when they don’t know something. It’s a strength, not a weakness.

Example: Introduce “Vulnerability Moments” in team meetings. Allocate 5 min for team members to share a challenge they’re facing, without offering solutions. It’s a time to be heard, not fixed.

4. Make Space for Questions: A no-blame culture that allows questions without repercussions increases understanding and solutions.

Example: Hold an “Ask Me Anything” session, where team members can share questions or concerns without fear of judgment.

5. Acknowledge Effort: Regularly spotlight the hard work and good intentions of team members. Recognition builds respect and goodwill.

Example: Create a digital or physical “Kudos Board,” visible to all team members. Let anyone post a note recognizing a colleague’s hard work or positive impact.

6. Own the Mistakes: Leadership should be the first to admit mistakes. This sets the tone for a transparent and honest environment.

Example: Practice “Ownership Talks” where leaders start off by sharing a recent mistake they made and the lessons learned, encouraging others to do the same.

Making It Work for You

It’s one thing to talk about psychological safety and another to implement it.

Start small:

  • Introduce one activity in your next team meeting.

  • Discuss the changes you plan to make and explain why.

  • Open the floor for feedback.

Diving Deeper

The prestigious University of Pennsylvania offers an excellent free online course through Coursera called Building High-Performing Teams.

If you haven’t read Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team or Daniel H. Pink’s Drive, you’re missing out.

Connecting the Dots

So, what happened with my IT team?

  • Turnover dropped from double digits to near zero almost overnight.

  • We became value creators for the business, not just order takers.

  • We partnered together on some incredible innovations.

Building psychological safety is a commitment with big payoffs in teamwork, productivity, and innovation.

Your team deserves it.

Until next time, stay diamond-strong.


P.S. Ready to transform with expert guidance?

Take your career, business, and life to the next level. I offer 1:1 coaching with proven systems and strategies tailored to your unique goals.

Let’s co-create your success story. You can book a session directly or reply to this email with any questions. Can’t wait to meet you!