The Importance of Leaders Making Employees Feel Safe and Trusted

Nichole Thiel
Nichole Thiel

A longtime Coeur d’Alene, Idaho resident, Nichole Thiel has experience with the Idaho Leadership Institute and has informed education policy and planning in her work with several schools. Results focused, Nichole Thiel enjoys watching TED Talks and gleaning insight from thought leaders in business and academia.

A 2014 presentation by management theorist Simon Sinek on the topic “Why good leaders make you feel safe” drew attention to the necessity of, and challenges inherent in, creating a circle of trust, particularly in uncertain economic times. He contrasts the military sphere, where people are given medals for “sacrificing so that others may gain,” with the business sphere, where the opposite often occurs.

If one looks back over human history, what Sinek terms “a circle of safety” was a critical element in safeguarding against outside dangers. Within the business sphere, dangers are not elemental, but related to competition, new technologies, and other disruptors.

These variables are not going away, but one way of exposing the organization to much greater risk is to neglect the dangers from within. One major indication of employees not feeling safe is over-adherence to the rules, as there is a sense that sticking one’s neck out or acting independently could result in loss of employment.

At the core of this is a lack of trust in the leaders. The time and energy expended in protecting oneself from other members of the same team works to the detriment of the operation as a whole. The leader who makes employees feel safe allows them to naturally combine strengths and talents in ways that benefit the group will also often see his business or organization prosper as a result.