The leadership of any organisation is not only responsible for the business strategy and goals but also for shaping the organisational culture. How leaders interact with each other and their team members, make and communicate their decisions, and the kind of behaviours and actions they recognise, and reward all go into making organisational culture. In today’s VUCA world, organisations need their workforce to be adaptable and resilient. However, this also requires companies and executive leadership to be vested in the well-being of the employees, be empathetic and view them as individuals and not just human resources.
The 2023 Gi Group Holding India report explores employer and employee perspectives on psychological safety in diverse Indian industries and cities. Based on a survey of 500+ employers and 1,000+ employees, the report suggested strategies for leaders to foster team resilience and psychological well-being.
Promoting psychological safety
Open communication and a bias-free environment are critical in promoting psychological safety, according to both employee's and employers' responses Leadership qualities play a significant role in nurturing psychological safety, with 71% of employers recognizing their importance. Most employees (43%) place the primary responsibility for psychological safety on top leaders, including C-level executives, while only 14% attribute it to reporting managers. Interestingly, 35% of employees believe the HR department shoulders the primary responsibility, suggesting a perception that psychological safety originates from higher levels of leadership.
In the employee survey, leaders were rated well on problem-solving ability, empathy, supportive nature, interaction outside of work, and responsibility and accountability. However, they scored lower in mindful listening and transparent communication at work.
The essential leadership qualities that contribute to a psychologically safe environment include emotional intelligence, as recognised by 77% of employees, accountability for decisions and actions (72%), effective and transparent communication (44%), and the demonstration of healthy interpersonal behaviours (42%). Employees also emphasise the need for leadership training in behaviour, communication, and attitude, as well as addressing biases and discrimination.
Different leadership styles have a substantial impact on nurturing psychological safety, with employee responses highlighting that supportive leadership (33%) and inclusive leadership (27%) are the most effective styles.
Leaders can be trained to improve these aspects. Exceptional leaders embrace adaptability and resilience, demonstrating unwavering resolve and the ability to adapt in the face of challenges and rapid change. Leaders have a growth mindset and foster a culture of continuous improvement within their teams. Leaders can effectively navigate obstacles and turn them into opportunities by developing these qualities.
From transparent communication to developing an empathetic mindset, leadership training in behaviour, communication, and attitude, is essential for fostering employee well-being. Supportive and inclusive leadership styles are the most effective in promoting psychological safety. Finally, exceptional leaders embrace adaptability, resilience, and a growth mindset to overcome challenges and drive continuous improvement.