A Psychologically Safe Board is one where constructive challenge is valued. It is safe to be in a minority of one in a board decision or discussion. The type of discussion is focused on key strategic and operational issues where all parties recognise the value of being both individually and collectively accountable for the focus of the Boards work and decisions made.
Feedback at the Board is balanced, measured and constructive. It is safe to raise a concern and to highlight risks and failures because the collective approach of the Board is to support and address issues arising.
Silence is seen not as acquiescence or agreement but as a warning sign that some members of the Board are either disengaged from a subject, do not understand the subject, or disagree with the direction of travel.
Psychological Safety makes it possible to admit to areas of knowledge weakness, concern over a matter which generates a high degree of uncertainty, risk or anxiety and hence allows the Board to hear from Board members who might otherwise be reluctant to articulate their views.
There is ample evidence that Psychologically Safe Boards and Teams generate more effective decisions and are significantly less likely to fail or miss critical risks or opportunities.
Where Boards take Psychological Safety seriously, they become the role model for the rest of your organisation. In a time of seismic and unprecedented change this is a key feature which every organisation will need to adopt.
For Teams, Psychological Safety is about creating environments where staff can Thrive at work. That is to say, where staff are able to give of their best, exercise good judgement and decision making, enjoy their work, feel valued and appreciated, challenged and stretched appropriately, are supported by line managers and colleagues and where it is safe to have and express an alternative opinion and it is also safe to ask for help from others, including managers and the Board.