Organisations are only successful long term if they have the capability to innovate.

And the capability to innovate comes from people being innovative, from people wanting to try out new things and wanting to take risks. Obviously if people try out new things and take risks, they might also fail and/or make mistakes. This is just how people innovate, how they find new ways, how they develop new and better products or services.

Remember, that people won't make mistakes, if they

  • don't do anything at all
  • keep repeating what has already been done
  • play safe
  • are being afraid of punishments

As a leader it is your responsibility to create and reinforce psychological safety in your teams and your business. Professor Amy C. Edmondson of Harvard Business School defined psychological safety as "a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes".

By providing an environment where people are given the time and the space to innovate, where they feel safe to be themselves, where they can take risks and where there is room for learning from mistakes, there is also room for an innovative and flourishing business.

So ask yourself:

  • What has been your personal most spectacular screw-up at work so far?
  • How did you manage it? What did you learn from it?
  • Think about the last time a team member made a mistake. How did you react?
  • Did your reaction support learning and innovation?