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Book Summary: The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety – Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation

The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety (2020) is a practical handbook for creating and maintaining psychological safety in the workplace. In order for employees to take risks, ask questions, challenge the status quo, and make mistakes – all while learning and growing – they have to feel included and safe. This book shows how leaders can reduce social friction while encouraging collaboration and innovation.

Book Summary: The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety - Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation

What’s inside?

Unleash your employees’ untapped potential by offering them the freedom to learn, engage and innovate.

Content Summary

Genres
Recommendation
What’s in it for me? Learn how to encourage innovation through inclusion in your team or organization.
To create inclusion safety, make sure team members feel unconditionally included from the very beginning.
To provide learner safety, create an environment where failure isn’t just accepted – it’s rewarded.
To provide contributor safety, get to know your team, limit your tell-to-ask ratio, and help colleagues think beyond their roles.
Democratize innovation by fostering challenger safety.
Final summary
About the author
Table of Contents
Overview
Read an Excerpt/PDF Preview
Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award
Video and Podcast

Genres

Management, Leadership, Career Success, Business Culture, Occupational, Organizational Popular Psychology, Human Resources, Personnel Management, Workplace Culture, Organizational behavior, Corporate culture, Employee morale

Recommendation

Research reveals that money can’t compensate for a lack of psychological safety in the workplace – that is, a sense of belonging, and freedom to speak up, learn and contribute. Your organization gains a competitive advantage when your employees feel comfortable enough to create and innovate. Leadership consultant Timothy Clark outlines four stages through which your company must progress to become inclusive and visionary – inspiring your employees to do their best work.

Learn how to encourage innovation through inclusion in your team or organization.

Congrats! You’re in the luxurious position of choosing between two teams you could work with. Let’s go ahead and meet them.

This is the first team’s office. Notice that? The air is stiff. The atmosphere – ice cold. Everyone looks scared. People aren’t asking questions; they think they’ll look stupid. And on top of it all is a boss who’s more concerned with sustaining an ego trip than hearing what anyone else has to say.

Now let’s mosey on over into the second team’s office. You’re warmly greeted at the door. A few members of the team are working on a project together. They invite you over to explain the problem they’re trying to tackle. The manager is there too – listening and encouraging everyone to put any and all ideas on the table for discussion.

Immediately, you know that this is your team.

But why aren’t all teams like that? It’s simple: an inclusive environment doesn’t just happen – it takes effort. It has to be cultivated. And it requires that the team leader or coach provide psychological safety. This means that every team member feels they can take risks, try new things, and make mistakes without the fear of negative consequences.

We’ll take a look at Timothy R. Clark’s ideas about how you can provide the four levels of psychological safety to create more productive environments. You’ll be able to apply the following actionable tips and insights to do this – whether you’re a parent, a youth soccer coach, or a Fortune 500 CEO.

The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety Framework

To create inclusion safety, make sure team members feel unconditionally included from the very beginning.

The first stage of psychological safety, inclusion safety, is a prerequisite for everything else. This involves an initial offering of unconditional respect for all human beings – an acknowledgment that everyone deserves respect and therefore deserves to be included. Later, inclusion might be withheld or revoked – but, at the start, the only condition for inclusion should be a person’s fellow humanity.

In this day and age, leaders tout “diversity and inclusion” as buzzwords to brag about their wokeness – so why does there continue to be a lack of inclusion safety? For one, not everyone who talks about it actually puts it into practice. More often than not, as we saw with the first team you visited previously, a tense, distrustful environment is favored over an empathetic and inclusive one. A study by Ernst & Young found that not even half of employees trust their bosses. So what can you do to avoid becoming part of this statistic?

Before you can address this, you’ll need to ask yourself a question: Why do you choose to include some people and not others?

According to the author, Timothy R. Clark, children seem to intuitively know the importance of inclusion. It’s strange, then, that this doesn’t transfer to adulthood. One answer could be that, as adults, we continually find ways to justify why we’re superior to other people. We tell ourselves that our differences are a reason for conflict, not celebration. Often, it’s a way of compensating for things we’re insecure about. Interestingly, we don’t always exclude someone because we don’t like them; usually, it’s because we have unmet needs.

This attitude starts at the top – with a manager, teacher, or parent more concerned about being right than creating an environment that stimulates safety or innovation. Then it trickles down through the ranks.

Clark witnessed this effect first-hand when he started out as manager of a steel plant in Geneva, Utah. The first team he spoke with at the steel plant pulled him aside and insisted that their department was a little special. They had more expertise than the other teams, they said. Their work was more complicated, and they were absolutely essential to the steel plant’s operations. It made sense at first – but every team he met with after that said the exact same thing. They all believed they were special, that they were the most important. And in trying to distinguish themselves, they were putting down the others. This resulted in each department becoming isolated, and averse to collaboration and communication. They were stuck in a cycle of unhealthy competition.

Now, here’s a solution: suspend your judgment – initially, at least – to encourage inclusion. Think about who you include and exclude. Now ask yourself why? What biases or prejudices might be at play here?

Perhaps it’s easier said than done. You can’t get rid of personal bias altogether; you’ll always have a bit of it lying around. But by identifying it and noticing where it affects your behavior, you can slowly start working on eliminating its influence. If you’re having trouble with this step, ask a close friend or acquaintance about your unconscious biases.

Once you’re comfortable providing inclusion solely on the basis that every human being deserves a fundamental level of respect, you can move on to the next stage of psychological safety: the safety to learn, make oneself vulnerable, and make mistakes in the process.

To provide learner safety, create an environment where failure isn’t just accepted – it’s rewarded.

Maybe you’ve been in a silent team meeting where nobody wants to propose any new ideas or ask questions because the all-too-authoritarian manager might criticize them. Or a silent classroom where everyone is afraid to answer the teacher’s question in case they look stupid.

Think of the last time you learned something new. Do you remember that uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability in the beginning? What happened next depended on your learning environment – an environment that’s currently in your, the leader’s, hands.

Learner safety consists of two powerful levers. First, minimize the feeling that being wrong is bad. And second, minimize the expectation that feedback only happens as punishment. Allowing fear to have free reign over an organization encourages people to self-censor, to constantly calculate whether the potential reward is big enough for the risk taken. Is it worth the benefit of being right if I might look stupid? If I get this wrong will my reputation suffer? That’s how we end up with a one-way ticket back to our proverbial silent classroom. Unfortunately, this pattern has become the rule in many cases.

But let’s look to the exceptions for guidance.

At Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah, an electrical-engineer-turned-calculus-teacher runs his classroom with a single basic assumption: anyone can learn calculus. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a math whiz or have always struggled with algebra. Students are expected to have failures repeatedly during the course of the year. The teacher, Craig B. Smith, views this as an opportunity rather than a disadvantage. His classes use a system that rewards participation with points, whether or not someone is right or wrong. As a student in his class, you can ask questions, take a stab at solving problems, and openly admit you’re confused. All of this is rewarded as a positive part of the learning process.

And the results are striking. The year before Craig started teaching calculus in 2007, just 46 students per 1,000 took the Advanced Placement AB Calculus exam. By 2016, that had jumped 250 percent to 160 students per 1,000. Now, his students pass the exam at a rate nearly 800 percent higher than the national average. Craig’s secret isn’t that he has some kind of exceptional understanding of calculus. Instead, he sees the students as humans, recognizes the immense risk they take by entering the calculus classroom in the first place, and then rewards it. Not every student continues studying math after high school, but they all learn how to approach and defeat challenges with confidence.

In your organization, is failure punished or rewarded? Do you encourage employees to make mistakes, or are errors a cause for shame?

It’s important to note that group leaders aren’t the only people guilty of threatening learner safety – other team members might threaten it through their own behavior as well. Not everyone will take to the idea of rewarding mistakes immediately. That’s why it’s crucial to recognize when colleagues are quick to speak out and shoot down others’ ideas, and try to develop an individual solution to ensure that all team members feel included and safe to learn.

If employees feel comfortable asking a superior for help without fearing negative repercussions, the organization will become that much more of a collaborative, innovative place. Everyone will be able to learn and grow freely while keeping stress to a minimum.

To provide contributor safety, get to know your team, limit your tell-to-ask ratio, and help colleagues think beyond their roles.

By now, you know how you can include your team members and the optimal way for them to learn. Now, it’s crucial that they get the opportunity to put their learnings into practice. And for that, you need contributor safety.

This is the third stage of psychological safety – but it’s the first that’s not a natural right as a human being. Contributor safety is something you have to earn; you need to demonstrate that you can perform at the level needed. It’s basically an exchange of risk. If you consistently deliver results, you’ll be trusted to do your thing.

This quickly descends into a paradoxical chicken-egg situation. If, for some reason, you don’t deliver results, the boss or coach can say that’s reason enough not to let you contribute again. That’s because the team or organization is taking a risk on behalf of you. If you don’t perform well, you don’t suffer personally – the team does. But if you don’t get a chance to contribute again after that, you’ll never get a shot at reversing the fate of a single mistake. You might get sidelined, benched, fired – or, even worse, micromanaged!

The point is that contributor safety has to be established and maintained by both parties. And for a leader, this is a constant balancing act. If you grant contributor safety too early, the decision might backfire. Someone who’s not yet ready may end up with way too much responsibility or tasks not suited to their skill set – think letting a first-year medical student perform brain surgery.

At the same time, you don’t want to overdo the gatekeeping and hold people back from reaching their potential. Perhaps someone has the skills and experience needed, but you’re still withholding contributor safety because of some other trust issue or bias.

Here are three ways to up your contributor safety game as a pragmatic but compassionate leader.

First, get to know your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Gone are the days of the ivory-tower managers – but also the days of the constantly micromanaging bosses. You need to be able to discern whether to trust someone’s abilities or not.

Another way is to curb your speaking time. Do you spend more time telling people what to do than listening to what they have to say? Because there’s really no need for you to be the one to provide the questions and the answers. Instead, let your colleagues figure it out. Listen first. And if they seem stuck or are missing something, well, that’s what learner safety is for! They can ask for help, and you can gladly provide it – by talking last. Establishing this type of trust does increase the risk for both you and your organization. But if you’ve gotten to know your team’s strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be much better prepared to make these calls.

Last, share the bigger picture and let your team collaborate. It’s bad for the innovation potential of an organization if each employee is isolated in their own cubicle, with their own little tasks. Initially, of course, employees need to learn the tasks specific to their role. But then, by creating and sustaining contributor safety, you can also help colleagues think strategically outside of their own roles. And the more that employees collaborate, the more dynamic and innovative an organization can become.

Democratize innovation by fostering challenger safety.

Now we’re climbing to the top of the psychological safety ladder. This last stage is challenger safety, and it’s crucial for the success of your team or company.

The Psychological Safety Ladder Canvas

Just like people, organizations can get stuck in their ways. Going up against that is intimidating, especially when those in charge are dead set on maintaining the existing MO. Similar to the other stages of psychological safety, challenger safety is never going to completely remove the heebie-jeebies that risk-taking induces.

Let’s look at where this chronic dread comes from. At its foundation is a high level of uncertainty. The psychological safety contract entails trading certainty and safety for uncertainty and ambiguity. But, as a leader, you can work to remove as much uncertainty as possible. Each unknown can be a source of stress – so try to eliminate as many unknowns for your team members to make it less stressful to voice criticism.

Now, here are a few concrete steps you can take to encourage challenging the status quo in your organization rather than upholding it.

Don’t just encourage dissent from the beginning – assign it! Charge a few people, or everyone, with finding problems in projects, initiatives, or other topics. If troubleshooting becomes the norm and not the exception, it’ll be that much easier for members of your team to feel comfortable keeping a critical eye out for weak points. Many organizations already do this in some way. IT businesses have internal hackers to intentionally expose vulnerabilities in their systems. And in the 1960s, NASA famously created “tiger teams” of specialists tasked with finding every possible source of failure in spacecraft subsystems.

You can also be more conscientious about allocating responsibilities. For regular meetings, create a rotating schedule so that a different person chairs each time.

Consider running a group training session every week, and use a rotation as well. Make sure that less-experienced and less-senior members have a chance to train higher-status employees so they can practice interacting outside of the traditional hierarchy.

If you want to talk to someone, go over to their desk or workspace rather than making them come to you. This also lessens the power and status gap.

Finally, keep in mind that some of your employees might be neurodivergent. This means that they have variations in learning, mood, or attention. Perhaps they are on the autism spectrum or have dyslexia. Some might not feel especially at home in social situations. In the context of psychological safety, this can translate to a sharp sensitivity to fear. An individual might respond faster to fear indicators and also take longer to recover from these experiences.

Part of knowing your team is perceiving these variations so that you can recognize which members need what type of safety when. Thus, you can ensure everyone feels safe to voice constructive criticism without the terror of negative consequences.

Final Summary

The world can be a scary place. And so for every type of social unit – whether it’s work, school, or home – we have a desire to feel safe. A lack of safety stifles productivity, creativity, and innovation. It deters risk-taking and perpetuates harmful competition.

You can change that by establishing the four stages of psychological safety. Notice how your prejudice influences who you include and who you don’t. Cultivate learner safety by encouraging and rewarding people for making mistakes and asking questions (remember the calculus teacher!). Get to know your colleagues. Decide what type of contributor safety they need to participate, and when it’s a good idea to provide it. And, finally, remember: innovation won’t happen by sticking with the status quo – you need challenger safety. So make it both acceptable and required to challenge tradition.

About the author

Timothy R. Clark is founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, a global leadership consulting and training organization. He is the author of five critically acclaimed books on leadership, culture, and change. His newest release, The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation, is considered a breakthrough contribution in the field of organizational culture and transformation. Clark earned a Ph.D. in social science from Oxford University.

The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety by Dr. Timothy Clark

Timothy R. Clark is founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, a leadership consulting and training organization, and works with leadership teams around the world. He earned a triple degree and first-team Academic All-America honors as a football player at Brigham Young University and completed a doctorate in social science from Oxford University. He is also the author of Leading with Character and Competence.

Timothy R. Clark is the founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, a global leadership consulting, training and assessment organization. He is the author of five books and the developer of the EQometer™ emotional intelligence assessment.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Stage 1: Inclusion Safety
Stage 2: Learner Safety
Stage 3: Contribution Safety
Stage 4: Challenger Safety
Conclusion: Avoiding Paternalism and Exploitation
Notes
Acknowledgements
Index
About the Author

Overview

This book is the first practical, hands-on guide that shows how leaders can build psychological safety in their organizations, creating an environment where employees feel included, fully engaged, and encouraged to contribute their best efforts and ideas.

Perhaps the leader’s most challenging task is to increase intellectual friction while decreasing social friction. When this doesn’t happen and it becomes emotionally expensive to say what you truly think and feel, that lack of psychological safety triggers the self-censoring instinct, shuts down learning, and blocks collaboration and creativity.

Timothy R. Clark, a former CEO, Oxford-trained social scientist, and organizational consultant, provides a research-based framework to help leaders transform their organizations into sanctuaries of inclusion and incubators of innovation.

When leaders cultivate psychological safety, teams and organizations progress through four successive stages. First, people feel included and accepted; then they feel safe to learn, contribute, and finally, challenge the status quo.

Clark draws deeply on psychology, philosophy, social science, literature, and his own experiences to show how leaders can, and must, set the tone and model the ideal behaviors–as he says, “you either show the way or get in the way.”

This thoughtful and pragmatic guide demonstrates that if you banish fear, install true performance-based accountability, and create a nurturing environment that allows people to be vulnerable as they learn and grow, they will perform beyond your expectations.

Psychological safety-accountability for performance framework

Read an Excerpt/PDF Preview

Commercial organisations survive and succeed through competitive advantage, which ultimately means innovation.

Most people don’t realise it, but innovation is almost always a social process and almost never a lightbulb moment of lone genius. It requires creative abrasion and constructive dissent – processes that rely on high intellectual friction and low social friction.

The best innovation incubators in the world combine tolerance for candour with the absence of fear. If you want to stimulate innovation on your team, start by meticulously examining your cultural stewardship for the team.

Key Concept: The leader’s task is to simultaneously increase intellectual friction and decrease social friction.

The absence of physical safety can bring injury or death, but the absence of psychological safety can inflict devastating emotional wounds, neutralise performance, paralyse potential, and crater an individual’s sense of self-worth. It can also destroy organisations.

One of the first things you learn about leadership is that the social and cultural context has a profound influence on the way people behave and that you as the leader are, straight up, responsible for that context.

The other thing you learn is that fear is the enemy. It freezes initiative, ties up creativity, and represses what would otherwise be an explosion of innovation.

Key principle: The presence of fear in an organisation is the first sign of weak leadership.

If you can banish fear, install true performance-based accountability, and create a nurturing environment that allows people to be vulnerable as they learn and grow, they will perform beyond your and their expectations.

Key questions: Have you ever been a part of an organisation or team that was dominated by fear? How did you respond? How did other people respond?

For the past twenty-five years, I’ve been a working cultural anthropologist and a student of psychological safety, working with teams across every sector of society.

Key concept: Psychological safety is a condition in which you feel (1) included, (2) safe to learn, (3) safe to contribute, and (4) safe to challenge the status quo— all without fear of being embarrassed, marginalised, or punished in some way.

All human beings have the same innate need: We long to belong. As a homeless man wrote on a tattered piece of cardboard, “Be kind if you not my kind.” And yet that basic human need can be taken too far, which leads to its own set of problems.

Not long ago, my sardonic teenage daughter, Mary, went to a high school basketball game and held up a poster that revealed a penetrating truth: “I’m just here so I don’t lose friends!”

I’m in the pattern-recognition business. When it comes to the way people interact, the patterns are unmistakable, and the challenge is universal

This book is about the interdependence of the human family. I want to shine a light on how we get along, decode the science of silence, and explore what it takes to liberate our voices and connect our hearts and minds.

Specifically, I want to share with you what I’ve learned about the way psychological safety influences behaviour, performance, and happiness. What’s the mechanism? How do we activate or deactivate it?

I’m in the pattern-recognition business. When it comes to the way people interact, the patterns are unmistakable, and the challenge is universal. What I have to say is both empirical and normative.

I make no apologies for combining cold, dispassionate observations with warm, passionate pleas because the use case, the job to be done, is to offer you practical guidance.

Key question: Have you ever had the realisation that family life is almost always the most challenging place to model and apply correct principles of human interaction?

Sometimes we’re noble and good to each other. Sometimes we’re criminally irresponsible. Our track record as a species is, for the most part, a chilling history, a pageant of war, and a chronicle of conquest.

Maya Angelou rendered the lamentable past as few literary voices can: “Throughout our nervous history, we have constructed pyramidic towers of evil, ofttimes in the name of good.

Our greed, fear and lasciviousness have enabled us to murder our poets, who are ourselves, to castigate our priests, who are ourselves. The lists of our subversions of the good stretch from before recorded history to this moment.”

Why, after thousands of years, are we technologically advanced and still sociologically primitive?

As social creatures, we act like free electrons, demonstrating both connection and contention. It’s true that we need each other to flourish.

Yet despite knowing this, we suffer from compassion fatigue, are handicapped by our blind spots, and chronically regress to the mean.

We go through cycles of embracing and exiling each other. Indeed, the study of humans in social settings is largely the study of exclusion and fear.

For example, a mere third of US workers believe their opinions count. Why do we hire people if we don’t want their opinions?

Drawing lines of exclusion is not rooted in our biology. It’s the adoration of power and distinction, insecurity, and ordinary selfishness that lead us to partition ourselves. As humans, we look for loyalties to attach to.

Out of our attachments emerge our differences. Out of our differences emerge our divisions. Out of our divisions emerge our classes, ranks, and stations.

And it is out of those spaces between us that the comparisons begin, the empathy flees, the fear and envy emerge, the conflicts arise, the antagonisms gestate, the destructive instincts and impulses for abuse and cruelty arise.

In the spirit of our bigotry, we invent dogmas to justify the ways we torment each other. Ironically, in our digital age, we connect and feel alone, compare and feel inadequate. Indeed, if you have a sudden urge to feel “less than,” spend an hour on your favourite social media platform.

Key concept: When you compare and compete, you lose the ability to connect.

=======================

Psychological safety is an environment of rewarded vulnerability in which human beings feel (1) included, (2) safe to learn, (3) safe to contribute, and (4) safe to challenge the status quo—all without fear of being embarrassed, marginalized, or punished in some way. The 4 stages of psychological safety is a universal pattern that reflects the natural progression of human needs in social settings. When teams, organizations, and social units of all kinds progress through the four stages, they create deeply inclusive environments, accelerate learning, increase contribution, and stimulate innovation.

Stage 1: Inclusion Safety

Inclusion safety satisfies the basic human need to connect and belong. Whether at work, school, home, or in other social settings, everyone wants to be accepted. In fact, the need to be accepted precedes the need to be heard. When others invite us into their society, we develop a sense of shared identity and a conviction that we matter. Inclusion safety allows us to gain membership within a social unit and interact with its members without fear of rejection or humiliation, boosting confidence, resilience, and independence. But what if you’re deprived of that basic acceptance and validation as a human being? In short, it’s debilitating. It activates the pain centers of the brain. Granting inclusion safety to another person is a moral imperative. Indeed, only the threat of harm can excuse us from this responsibility. When we create inclusion safety for others, regardless of our differences, we acknowledge our common humanity and reject false theories of superiority and arrogant strains of elitism.

Stage 2: Learner Safety

Learner safety satisfies the basic human need to learn and grow. It allows us to feel safe as we engage in all aspects of the learning process—asking questions, giving and receiving feedback, experimenting, and even making mistakes, not if but when we make them. We all bring some level of inhibition and anxiety to the learning process. We all have insecurities. Who hasn’t hesitated to raise their hand to ask a question in a group setting for fear of feeling dumb? Learning is both intellectual and emotional. It’s an interplay of the head and the heart. When we sense leaner safety, we’re more willing to be vulnerable, take risks, and develop resilience in the learning process. Conversely, a lack of learner safety triggers the self-censoring instinct, causing us to shut down, retrench and manage personal risk. When we create learner safety for others, we give encouragement to learn in exchange for a willingness to learn.

Stage 3: Contribution Safety

Contributor safety satisfies the basic human need to contribute and make a difference. When contributor safety is present, we feel safe to contribute as a full member of the team, using our skills and abilities to participate in the value-creation process. We lean in to what we’re doing with energy and enthusiasm. We have a natural desire to apply what we’ve learned to make a meaningful contribution. Why do we dislike micromanagers? Because they don’t give us the freedom and discretion to reach our potential. Why do we like empowering bosses? Because they encourage us and draw out our best efforts. The more we contribute, the more confidence and competence we develop. When we create contributor safety for others, we empower them with autonomy, guidance, and encouragement in exchange for effort and results.

Stage 4: Challenger Safety

Challenger safety satisfies the basic human need to make things better. It’s the support and confidence we need to ask questions such as, “Why do we do it this way?” “What if we tried this?” or “May I suggest a better way?” It allows us to feel safe to challenge the status quo without retaliation or the risk of damaging our personal standing or reputation. Challenger safety provides respect and permission to dissent and disagree when we think something needs to change and it’s time to say so. It allows us to overcome the pressure to conform and gives us a license to innovate and be creative. As the highest level of psychological safety, it matches the increased vulnerability and personal risk associated with challenging the status quo. When we create challenger safety, we give air cover in exchange for candor.

We thrive in environments that respect us and allow us to (1) feel included, (2) feel safe to learn, (3) feel safe to contribute, and (4) feel safe to challenge the status quo. If we can’t do these things, if it’s emotionally expensive, fear shuts us down. We’re not happy and we’re not reaching our potential. But when the environment nurtures psychological safety, there’s an explosion of confidence, engagement, and performance. Ask yourself if you feel included, safe to learn, safe to contribute, and safe to challenge the status quo. Finally, ask yourself if you’re creating an environment where others can do these four things. In the process, look around and see others with respect and fresh amazement, find deeper communion in your relationships, and more happiness and satisfaction in your own life.

Video and Podcast

Review/Endorsements/Praise/Award

“There are gems in this book which will stick with me. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about themselves and the world they live in. I also, on a side note, suggest that The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety should be a handbook for every educator in the country.” – D.L. Gardner, The Magic Pen

“This is not just a book; it’s an urgent invitation to the kind of rigorous self-examination that will lead to breakthroughs in every relationship of your life. Clark offers us a case for and path to creating the healthy social systems we crave and modern corporate flourishing demands.” – Joseph Grenny, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Crucial Conversations

“As a person responsible for the development of employees in 65 countries, I can tell you that this book outlines a must-have culture. A safe space is table stakes for any organization looking to attract and retain talent and innovate from every chair. A powerful call to action.” – Simone Ciafardini, Vice President, Clinique Global Education

“The 4 stages framework is exceptionally insightful and perfectly logical. With the ongoing diversification of the workplace, Clark’s defined path to inclusion and innovation can’t be ignored. This book showed me how to improve my performance as both a team member and leader. The analysis and recommendations are insightful and inspiring.” – Martin Shell, Vice president and chief external relations officer, Stanford University

Praise by Martin Shell

“Many leaders talk about wanting the ‘truth’ but don’t model a social contract that protects employees in the vulnerability that comes with candor. Clark shows us how to create a safe environment where dissent and challenging the status quo are the norm, not the exception.” – Angela O’Dorisio, Director, Talent Development, VMware Carbon Black

“The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety embodies the logical and natural progression of a healthy, high performing team. It provides a road-map for teams striving to create the best environment for success. I use it consistently to monitor my own team’s health, applying the framework to each individual both professionally and personally.” – Libby Macomber, Director, Commercial Development, Celemi

“Clark’s writing ideas and concepts are insightful; questions inspiring; and images and stories captivating. His work helps leaders create, employees experience, and all of us receive psychological safety to create a better future.” – Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

“Safety, commitment and engagement are subjective topics, difficult to measure and can be the cause of lack of results and turnovers. This book challenges the status quo, revolutionizes leadership perspective and can transform companies and the way they engage with people so they can safely do their best.” – Ana Artigas, Brazilian neuropsychologist, best-selling author of Relational Intelligence

“Psychological safety is perhaps the most important condition any leader can create for innovation to flourish. Timothy Clark provides and insightful examination of the specific steps leaders can take to build psychological safety within their team or organization. A terrific read!” – Jeff Dyer, Horace Beesley Professor of Strategy, Marriott School of Business, Professor of Strategy, Wharton School of Business

“How do you summon the collective genius of an entire organization? From a Latin American perspective, I can tell you that Timothy Clark’s book holds the answer. If organizations create a culture of psychological safety, they can meet ferocious competition by harnessing the power of inclusion to drive innovation. As a survival guide to the 21st century, this book uncovers the DNA of enduring greatness across cultures, industries, and demographics.” – Juan Carlos Linares, President, Lee Hecht Harrison, Bogota, Colombia

“Clark has an urgent need for us to recognize our common humanity and, by doing so, encourage organizational and professional success.” – Nicole Killian, Mobyorkcity.com

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