Like most leaders, Google Execs had believed that the best teams were those that had the best people “” the right people, on the right bus “” You want to employ the best engineer, the best manager and the best scientist and give them the best resource. Right? This is logical, there you have it, the perfect performing project team. But according to Julia Rozovsky, Google’s people analytics manager, “we were dead wrong.” The best teams, according to the study, have psychological safety nets.
A two-year long study of 180 teams undertaken by Alphabet (Google), a company which has embarked on countless meaningful moonshots, discovered that one trait “” psychological safety “” stood out and was shared by their most successful teams.
Most meetings and projects are full of a veneer of fear. Fear of failure, fear of seeming incompetent, fear of asking perceived silly or inappropriate questions. These fears can immobilise teams and prevent them from achieving their best. These teams feel like they are working in an environment where everything they say or do is under a microscope. “But imagine a different environment. A situation in which everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. A culture where managers provide air cover and create safe zones so employees can let down their guard.
That’s psychological safety,” says Michael Schneider in an article for Inc Magazine. What Google discovered is that teams with “psychologically safe environments had employees who were less likely to leave, more likely to harness the power of diversity, and ultimately, who were more successful.”
My research shows that a quest’s destination creates this psychological safety. We all know that every quest undergoes trials and tribulations, failures and setbacks. That is the nature of a quest. It’s the agility and resilience of a questing mind-set that sets moonshots apart from other projects. This improves the chance of success and ensures resilience for the overall projects success.
Your role as a quester leader is to provide the air cover, safe houses and corporate politics no-fly zones where your band of questers can feel safe to dream, explore and do their best work.