psychological safety

This simple team activity builds psychological safety.

invite participation, promote open conversation

Duncan Skelton
3 min readJun 3, 2022


Your team is highly unlikely to access high performance when psychological safety is low. When it comes to high performance, that sense of safety is simply table-stakes; an enabler.

Most people think psychological safety is about creating happy teams.

Nope. Wrong.

Psychological safety is about high performance.

That’s it.

Now, if you care about high performance and are looking for ways to develop it within your team, bring this exercise (and your curiosity) to your people today and start a new type of conversation. (The Fearless Organisation points to Open Conversation as one domain of psychological safety.)

5 Dysfunctions of a Team

Patrick Lencioni proposes a model of effective teams that is a pyramid of 5 characteristics (that he presents through the lens of the 5 dysfunctions of a team).

Framing The Work

Set up the conversation by sharing this model and a little context around it.

Now have your team brainstorm around this, either in 1 large group or multiple small groups depending on team size.

Use a collaborative app like Jamboard or Mural, or plain old paper and sticky notes. (Here’s a Jamboard template you make a copy of if you use a Google account)

Invite Participation

Have each group brainstorm ideas in 2 sets of content. One idea per sticky note.

From bottom to top, work layer by layer.

  • Behaviours that erode…

On the left of the model place ideas that reduce or minimise or erode that quality.

  • Behaviours that strengthen…

Then work on the right hand side of the page. Brainstorm ideas that build, increase, or create more of that quality. Again go layer by layer in the model from bottom to top.

Each idea, each sticky note should be an example of a behaviour.



Duncan Skelton

Leadership & Executive Coach. Accidental serial marathon runner. A rock climber, always looking to the next adventure.