Building Psychological Safety


My younger self knew everything.
Absolutely everything.
You ask her any question and she had an answer.
She was lashings and lashings of FIG JAM*.

Even when she didn’t know she was never going to admit it. She was the epitome of a fixed mindset, using all her energy to defend her all-knowing reputation.

To be clear she was clever, quick to learn and curious.

But this was her armour and not her gift.
It stopped her and her team being all they could be.
This was not leadership this was fear.

If we are to be the leaders we want to be, if we are to build teams and organisations that really make a difference, we need to build psychological safety.

Safety to say I don’t know.
Safety to take risks.
Safety to ask more questions and seek more answers.
Safety to truly care deeply about our work, our clients and our results.
Safety to experiment and fail, and to learn and try again.
Safety to do things differently when needed.
Safety to speak up, for ourselves and on behalf of those we serve.
Safe to laugh, cry and be deeply and truly connected to each other and the work we do.
Safety to admit that while we might disagree with your opinion or choose not to have you as
a friend – but as a colleague and a human being you matter.

Is this easy?

Do I have the answers?

I have my truth and some of the answers. The rest I am figuring out.

What I do know is that safety is what we create. It's not what we teach. It is having a good hard grasp on our own emotional intelligence, understanding our triggers and our own shame shields – the armour we put up when we are uncomfortable.

This is the deep inner work of a leader. The hard graft, the relentless practice of being a better human and therefore a safer leader.

*F.I.G J.A.M acronym for Fuck I’m Good – Just Ask me

Being a leader takes courage. And courage-building takes serious practice. Are you ready to step up and develop into a more daring leader?

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Hello there! I am Jenny Cole - Coach, Consultant and Cheerleader. I work with women to create careers,  workplaces and lives that allow them to flourish.

I love nothing better than watching smart, capable but overwhelmed women step confidently into their best self and truly succeed.

I am endlessly curious with two successful businesses behind me. My blog shares what I see, what I know and random musings.

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1 comment

Sue Crock

Jenny thanks, I love your blog! Somedays I yearn for the sense of security that I felt when I was young and knew it all, just as you describe! Even though it was a false sense of security, it felt simpler and there was far less angst because I was so sure! My occasional yearning for this now helps me understand those who seek certainty, want to return to days when life seemed less complicated, and are fearful of the rate of change and sense they have no control over their lives. However, how much more nuanced and fascinating is my life now, in my not knowing. So much richer and, I hope, a little more humble. Thanks for your reminder of the value of not knowing! Warm wishes, Sue
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