Why Psychological Safety is the Key to Your Success!

Why Psychological Safety is the Key to Your Success!

Psychological Safety Keynote Speaker Janine Hamner Holman

Creating the Context for Organizational Excellence

: “Understanding and embracing the frame of psychological safety inside organizations is the key that unlocks innovation, productivity, effective feedback, real accountability, and even successful diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.”

Janine Hamner Holman, Psychological Safety Keynote Speaker

Almost two decades ago, a then PhD candidate named Amy Edmonson created the term “Psychological Safety.”  At that time, she was researching what makes some organizations and teams more successful than others and, specifically, was there a link between high-functioning organizations and the number of serious mistakes or problems within those companies/teams.  Long story short, she discovered that there is a direct correlation: in what she dubbed as organizations and teams with a high level of psychological safety, they have both a low rate of making mistakes AND a high rate of reporting mistakes (and learning from them!) when they do happen.

This student has since become the leading authority on psychological safety and the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School.

So begins keynote speaker Janine Hamner Holman’s talk on psychological safety.

Well, this is interesting…but why should we care?

Because, if we want organizations where employees are engaged, productive, innovative, make sound decisions, develop strong relationships both internally and with customers, and where the business is financially strong, then we want psychological safety.

Essentially, psychological safety is the collective belief that it’s safe – and even required – to speak up when needed. In organizations with high levels of psychological safety, we are called to bring forth relevant ideas, questions, or concerns without the fear of being shut down in a gratuitous way. Psychological safety is present when colleagues trust and respect each other and feel able, even obligated, to be candid.

Psychological safety keynote speaker Janine Hamner also gets to bring in one of her favorite topics: brain science and neurobiology. Because here’s the tricky part: raising these kinds of questions and concerns is totally antithetical to how our brains are wired! The most important thing to our brains is that we are safe and that we stay safe. Speaking up with problems, concerns, failures and even questions make us potentially unsafe. So, we don’t want to do it! Or more precisely, our brains don’t want us to!

Now we have two diametrically opposed imperatives.  We know and the data shows that

In organizations with low psychological safety, there’s a big difference in the experience of psychological safety based on status and hierarchy.  If I’m high up on the organizational chart with a lot of status, I am likely to think we have a lot of psychological safety!  However, if I’m a front-line, individual contributing employee, I know we have no or low psychological safety.

You may be wondering, doesn’t fear motivate?  Of course it does!

The question, however, is what does it motivate?  It motivates hiding. Limiting Creativity. Cutting off our ability for creative problem solving.


Feeling connection to those similar to us


Steriotype and assumptions about different groups


Looking to confirm our own opinions and preexistin ideas

The next key building block that psychological safety keynote speaker Janine Hamner illustrates is the essential role of leadership.

While we know intellectually that we need failure in order to have innovation, we also know that all people hate to fail. And it can have negative impacts on our sense of self, competence, and self-esteem.

So, leaders GET TO, repeatedly, make sure that we know it’s safe to fail so that we learn and innovate.  How leaders, and organizations, can create that is one of Janine’s favorite topics and makes her a heavily sought-after international psychological safety keynote speaker.

In addition, psychological safety is, in Janine’s experience, one of the key ingredient that’s been missing from most diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.

If it fits for your organization Janine’s keynote speech on psychological safety can include a section on DE&I and how part of the challenge is that people perceive that diversity, equity and inclusion are ultimately a HR issue: you hire people different from the norm and, presto, diversity!  This has been the approach adopted by most organizations for the past 50 years and it’s a recipe for failure.

The reality is that we need to work on equity and inclusion BEFORE we work on DE&I.  As a leading psychological safety keynote speaker, Janine lays out how the biggest obstacle to success in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives is in neglecting to create the circumstances inside organizations such that we celebrate and are welcoming of all backgrounds and perspectives…prior to bringing in new people.   Without it, people quit, and we’re left constantly hiring for diversity or, worse, defending our DE&I initiatives.

With a blend of stories and best practices, Janine’s keynote powerfully addresses the ability of psychological safety (and effective diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives!) to develop effective business strategies, an engaged workforce, a thriving organizational culture, and creating dynamic brands for generations to come. The unique insights provided by psychological safety keynote speaker throughout her talk provide concrete tactics to unlock the secret of having organizations really work.

The motivational stories that psychological safety keynote speaker Janine Hamner shares in speech will stay with your audience and encourage them to act, whether in their workplace or personal life. That kind of long-lasting effect is rare at keynote events, but with your vision, our experience and insight, we can make it happen.

“Janine was one of the panelists for us on DE&I and brought a unique perspective on psychological safety. I had never heard the term before her and she helped us all understand the key role that psychological safety has on diversity and inclusion…and why so many initiatives fail because we want a quick fix instead of focusing on the real solutions that will create lasting change.”

Stafford Jacobs, Vice President, Cal Insurance; Leader on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

In addition to her work as a keynote speaker, Janine Hamner Holman is the CEO of J&J Consulting Group and the author of the forthcoming book, Why Are the Soft Skills so Damn Hard…and Many Other Things We Got Wrong, as well as a contributing author to the forthcoming book, The Shoulders of Mighty Women.  She is also host of the podcast, The Cost of Not Paying Attention.