Safely Uncertain – Me with Myself

Fear inhibits learning. Research in neuroscience shows that fear consumes physiologic resources, diverting them from parts of the brain that manage working memory and process new information. This impairs analytic thinking, creative insight and problem solving – Amy Edmonson – The Fearless Organisation 2019

Over the last decade we’ve had the privilege to work with leaders in many highly regulated and high-risk environments. We’ve worked with police, private prisons and the NHS where there is high risk and high scrutiny, the challenge of working with vulnerable individuals and at the same time increasing demand and reducing resource.

We’ve constantly been humbled by the way in the leaders in these organisations retain their sense of service and compassion  – supporting their teams and those they serve yet retaining their pragmatism and focus on performance. 

Over the last months, we were reflecting how might this play out for those leaders who whilst not perhaps facing the same threats of physical and emotional harm, are nevertheless facing challenges and demands far outside of normal expectations? 

What is it that we need as leaders, irrespective of where we may sit in the hierarchy to make ourselves safe? What do we need so that we are in best shape to support others? We recently worked with a team from a regional University and were struck by the different answers to ‘what is it you need to make yourselves safe’ according to different Insights* profiles:

Perhaps psychological safety for others starts with a long hard look in the mirror to ensure our own needs are being met? Back to the tenet of – first step, put on your own oxygen mask!

*Working with our colleagues from Agar Management Consultancy