Baker Stuart’s Insight: Does fear have a function in terms of leadership? No, argues Amy Edmonson, in her book ‘The Fearless Organisation’. Instead, she argues that we should try to create workplaces where employees feel that their opinions count, because psychological safety builds a better organisation .
Recently, the president of the United States was quoted as saying, “Real power is … fear.” A book to be published in November by Amy Edmondson, The Fearless Organization , argues that fear is not a useful tool in a leader’s toolkit when it comes to managing interpersonal relationships in a workplace.
Best known for her studies of teams and teaming (where different team members come together for one specific project after another), Edmonson’s book builds upon what she has found in that work. Specifically, her concern is the degree to which fear—fear of not being included, fear of appearing ignorant, fear of being ignored, fear of being the “skunk at the garden party,”—destroys teamwork, creativity, and innovation.
Psychological safety is the antidote to fear. One of a leader’s primary tasks is creating that safety. To paraphrase the author, a fearless workplace is one where employees feel that their opinions count. […]