Psychological Safety in the Workplace: Leadership Behaviours and Employee Satisfaction

Psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.” It’s the concept of bringing your whole self to work without fear of judgement. Psychological safety describes a workplace that promotes different perspectives and diverse skills and opinions. It increases innovation, prioritises curiosity, and appreciates experimentation and constructive debate. This environment significantly enhances employee satisfaction and promotes effective leadership behaviours.

“Create aha moments”

According to McKinsey, “Learning experiences that are immersive and engaging are remembered more clearly and for a longer time.” Create a learning landscape that motivates team members. Prioritise content that inspires a mindset shift and guides your team towards improved self-awareness and reflection.

Importantly, invest in training for your team that is enriching and sustainable. Offering different modalities, such as audio, to match individual needs and preferences, can significantly boost employee satisfaction. Discover learning options that are convenient, and make sure to speak to your team about how and where they enjoy learning. Encourage discussions about recent discoveries and exciting developments.

Get to know your team

Demonstrate a genuine interest in learning about your colleagues and creating a culture for people to share who they are and what’s important to them. Find out where your team’s intentions, expectations, worries and strengths overlap. Get to know people’s concerns and aspirations.

Understanding these aspects is crucial for promoting leadership behaviours that foster employee satisfaction. Safety isn’t just an absence of fear. Cultivating it requires demonstrating your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and dedication to lifelong learning. Safety isn’t just an absence of fear. Cultivating it requires demonstrating your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and dedication to lifelong learning.

A team surrounding a computer
Get to know your team

Be clear

Be clear with your team about what you expect. Clarify your intentions and make your plans known. Create an open dialogue, too, and welcome any questions or concerns. Doing so builds the foundations for a psychologically safe workplace where colleagues’ opinions are valued. Modelling accountability and transparency is the key here.

Engage colleagues by asking for their input on your existing plans and processes. Demonstrate active listening and be clear that you’re actioning suggestions made by the team. This clarity and openness are essential leadership behaviours that contribute to employee satisfaction.

Normalise vulnerability

Be prepared to be vulnerable and authentic as a role model to your team. Be ready to offer guidance and demonstrate where you have made mistakes. Evidence your own professional development and share how you are committed to learning.

It’s easy to talk about confidence, experimentation and resilience, but remember to show it too. Embody the behaviours you hope to see. Your team members need to see that you’re self-aware of don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect (whatever perfect means anyway!) They need to be confident that you’re not setting one standard for them and another for yourself.

Ask, ‘What did you learn?’

A huge part of promoting psychological safety is encouraging experimentation, risk-taking, and reframing failure. If you constantly fear getting things wrong, you’re likely not in a psychologically safe workplace. If perfectionism is promoted, you’re probably not free to try new things, and making the occasional mistake doesn’t feel safe. You might even feel so worried about getting things wrong that your work stagnates.

As a leader, embrace things not working out exactly as you’d hoped. Rather than criticising the team for perceived challenges or failures, delve into what skills they developed along the way and discover any valuable insights they have. Be prepared to ask your team what they learnt when a project didn’t turn out as planned. That way, you’re creating a culture where the team is brave and innovative, and they know it’s safe for everyone to take risks. Mistakes won’t be held against individuals, and frightening culture of blame is avoided. These leadership behaviours are crucial for ensuring employee satisfaction and fostering a supportive work environment.

Team building
Team building


We’ve seen that creating psychological safety requires a coordinated, sustained effort from leaders. Change won’t happen overnight, but start the journey by getting to know your team and yourself better. With a focus on fresh learning opportunities and innovative thinking, you’ll see your workplace flourish, leading to increased employee satisfaction and the adoption of positive leadership behaviours.

Click here to view our course library. Tracks include An Introduction to Psychological Safety and The Importance of Self-Reflection.