Creativity and Innovation Increases with Psychological Safety

Gillian Breckell
3 min readNov 7, 2022


In that moment when a great idea sparks into life, our minds are calculating the risk and assessing our vulnerability before we put that idea into words. Our perception of psychological safety can tip the balance between whether we choose to create and innovate, or decide to stay silent.

Psychological safety — what is it and why does it matter?

Psychological safety is defined as “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking”.

Although the official definition refers to a team, it is important to note from an entrepreneurial perspective that psychological safety can also be developed through high levels of support offered by our family, friends and broader social networks. People who receive support from various sources perceive more psychological safety and subsequently are more inclined towards entrepreneurial risk-taking.

In a practical sense, psychological safety is created within the belief that we are valued and have a voice — which in turn influences our willingness to create, innovate, learn, take risks and be open about our mistakes. Psychological safety has been shown to exist in teams that demonstrate creativity, innovation and learning as well as high performance and engagement.

Creating psychological safety — who creates it and how?

Psychological safety is created in the relationships between people, and within the climates and cultures of teams and organisations. It is a perception that we hold about the supportiveness of our surroundings, which means that it is created over time as we observe and experience interactions between ourselves and others.

Leadership is critical to psychological safety as leaders model behaviours that set the scene and climate within and across teams. Successful entrepreneurial leaders often demonstrate a mindset that is open, inclusive, appreciative and positive, which in turn creates a culture that protects creativity and motivates teams towards innovative behaviours. Ultimately everyone participates in cultivating psychological safety.

How can I impact psychological safety?

Although perceptions and beliefs can always be challenged, they are rooted differently in each unique and individual person. Risk-taking actions taken by an individual cannot be claimed to be occurring because of psychological safety if it leaves the rest of the team feeling insecure and vulnerable. Therefore, the most important action to take as a leader and colleague is to develop relationships and communication, and to observe and promote supportive behaviours.

Here are a few reflective questions for you to consider:

  1. If a mistake is made, how is this addressed by you and others?
  2. Are problems and tough issues discussed, and does everyone have a chance to speak up?
  3. Do people feel valued and accepted for being themselves?
  4. Are risks discussed and agreed on before being taken?
  5. Do people work openly and supportively with each other?

How could you start a conversation with others around you about ensuring our mindsets are open, inclusive, appreciative and positive? How do you feel about starting a conversation about psychological safety? Remember, the perception of psychological safety can tip the balance between whether you and others choose to stay silent, or choose to create and innovate.

Where can I read more?