Psychological Safety Does Not Equal “Anything Goes”

A common misperception about psychological safety is that it means lowering standards, giving up on accountability, or “wrapping teams in cotton wool,” as Dan Cable of London Business School puts it.

I have spilled a great deal of ink correcting this notion. Being a social scientist, I also love a good 2 x 2 matrix. Here’s mine, brought to life by Tanmay Vora, sketchnote artist supreme.

Clearly, the place to be is the upper right quadrant, where people are not afraid to have the difficult conversations that bring real progress. Those conversations flow upward as well as downward, in an atmosphere of respect that also flows both ways.

Glad that’s settled, right?

Just kidding… it’s a very sticky misperception that is no doubt here to stay.

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One Reply to “Psychological Safety Does Not Equal “Anything Goes””

  1. […] Psychological safety in the workplace by Amy C. Edmondson and Tanmay Vora […]


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