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Confidence can pull teams through challenging times

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

Confidence can be a powerful characteristic in the workplace. Harnessing confidence and building upon it within work teams can help develop a productive and engaged workforce.

It’s important that teams have the capacity to build confidence. This can come through recognition and appreciation, two things humans need to excel.

“We all share the same deep psychological needs to feel seen, known, and appreciated. From the moment we are born, we seek ways to connect, communicate, and support each other because our physical and mental wellbeing depends on it,” explained organisational psychologist Paige Williams.


Psychological safety, an often-used buzzword that has appeared consistently in workplace discussions in recent years, is a powerful tool for inspiring confidence.

Creating a workplace where employees feel safe to express themselves and contribute meaningfully is a great path towards building confidence and promoting psychological safety.

Williams continued: “Drama emerges when we perceive that these needs are not being met or that we are at risk in some way from a situation we are in or others we are working with. And it is a black pit for collective energy, effort and creativity. There is, however, an antidote to drama that creates trust and builds confidence in teams: psychological safety.”

According to Williams, teams with high psychological safety are more inclined to share things without fear of embarrassment, rejection, or recrimination.

“Of course, psychological safety does not guarantee that everything a team tackles will run perfectly or that mistakes will never be made. It doesn’t mean team members will never disagree, argue, or feel frustrated with each other. Nor does it ensure team members will never feel uncomfortable or pressured as they hold each other to the highest standards of performance and accountability. And no, not everyone in a team will be close friends,” said Williams.

“But instead of leaking emotional and social energy and creating drama around these challenges, psychological safety enables teams to focus on having honest discussions, engaging in healthy debates, and sharing accountability. It is what makes it possible for teams to be comfortably uncomfortable together as we learn and grow through disruption and uncertainty. It can help us to more quickly and effectively accomplish our team goals despite challenge and change.”

Developing psychological safety is a worthwhile task for an employer. Promoting positive confidence can help to inspire creativity, productivity, collaboration, and engagement.

It is easier said than done, however, and breaking old habits may be necessary to change. With this in mind, the Center for Creative Leadership listed eight ways to foster psychological safety in the workplace:

  1. Make psychological safety an explicit priority.
  2. Facilitate everyone speaking up.
  3. Establish norms for how failure is handled.
  4. Create space for new ideas (even wild ones).
  5. Embrace productive conflict.
  6. Pay close attention and look for patterns.
  7. Make an intentional effort to promote dialogue.
  8. Celebrate wins.
Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.