What is the best predictor of psychological safety?

The best predictor of psychological safety, according to the excerpts provided, is the establishment of a culture where individuals feel they can speak up, express their concerns, and be heard without fear of embarrassment or punishment. This environment is characterized by candor and open communication, where asking hard questions is encouraged and direct feedback is welcomed. It is important to note that psychological safety does not equate to simply "being nice" or avoiding difficult conversations; rather, it involves the ability to engage in candid and direct communication, even when it may trigger distress.

Leaders play a critical role in fostering psychological safety by actively encouraging input, ensuring people feel heard, and responding appreciatively to unwelcome news. Leaders must also be aware of how their behavior could potentially undermine these efforts, such as by triggering a threat response or reinforcing defense routines. Power dynamics can distort communication, so leaders should seek to heighten their self-awareness and explicitly ask for direct feedback, making it safe for employees to point out issues.

Mutual esteem and accountability are preconditions for productive norms and contribute to psychological safety. When team members respect each other and trust that they will be truthful in a direct but empathetic way, it creates a safer environment to deal with vulnerabilities.

In summary, the best predictor of psychological safety is a culture that prioritizes open, candid communication, mutual respect, and trust, underpinned by leadership that actively supports and models these behaviors.