#9 – The Emergent Leader – Building Psychological Safety For Scrum/Agile Teams

My blog post on this topic was recently approved in the Scrum Alliance community. Find the full article here: http://bit.ly/PsychologicalSafety

Yes! I agree…

I did an Google Ngram the other day and was interested to see the instance of this topic and its trend upward over the years starting in 1900. As I continued to explore this, the books this topic shows up in were varied and interesting with most of them focused in the area of psychology.  And seeing the instance of this appearing in text go up so dramatically over they years made me wonder, what’s happening?

In 1999, Amy Edmondson, a Harvard professor, popularized the term psychological safety in her work entitled: “Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams” , where she talked about its relationship and relevance for the workplace. Since then, this topic is getting more attention.

In April I attended an Agile Open Space and this was the first time I’d heard this term.  I was eager to hear more.  At that conference and since then, I have started my own journey with this topic because I believe it is one of those subtle, yet vitally important elements of leadership for building high performing teams.  I also think that to build psychological safety on teams, it’s more about ‘HOW’ leadership happens.

As Agile organizations and teams move beyond the basics of focus on practices, and start to explore the higher levels of collaboration and elements of leadership that can bring their teams to higher performance, it is a principle like psychological safety that begins to come to surface.

My other article, talks about ways to build psychological safety on Agile teams using tools many Agile practitioners are already familiar with. The title: “Planning Poker, a tool for building Psychological Safety on Agile teams” can be found at : http://bit.ly/PPBPSAT.

At the end of the day, its elements of everyday leadership, taking steps to build trust and making a space for a team to develop through its stages with support that counts.

I’m partnering with an expert on brain science, Dr. Debra Dupree, to further this conversation. We’ve developed a session to increase awareness and effectiveness through skill building and training to help ScrumMasters, Agile Team Facilitators, Development leaders, Project Managers and Agile coaches at all levels, begin to get a command of the important leadership practices that build psychological safety on Agile teams.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Workshop – Building Psychological Safety for Agile Teams is scheduled, February 8 and 9, 2017. Find the details and a registration link here: Workshop Details. Or email me at alicia@operational-innovations.com for more details.


Graphic: http://drtoddhall.com/category/work/

Amy Edmondson, “Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams” http://web.mit.edu/curhan/www/docs/Articles/15341_Readings/Group_Performance/Edmondson%20Psychological%20safety.pdf


Alicia is a Lean Agile Transformation | Executive Coach with over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. She coaches, trains and transforms mid-size to large companies domestically & internationally.

Alicia has had 12 years coaching & leading organizational transformation and process improvement. She is the founder and co-organizer of the Agile Coaching Exchange, a meetup group for coaches in Southern California:http://bit.ly/ACE_SoCal

Alicia is passionate about using Agile practices to build high performing teams!  Connect with her at LinkedIN: aliciarmclain or on Twitter: @AgileLeaderSD

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