Psychological Safety, Growth Mindset and Difficult Conversations to Shape the Future

Psychological Safety, Growth Mindset and Difficult Conversations to Shape the Future

GUEST POST from Stefan Lindegaard

How can we embrace and implement the growth mindset and psychological safety in our organization? How can we train our people and in particular our leaders on this? How do we get better at shaping the future?

Those are questions I hear often these days as the interest in the above topics rises fast.

In this post, I share lots of ideas on how you and your organization can embrace the growth mindset, psychological safety and related attributes in the context of shaping the future. Feel free to use my work as you see fit as long as you give due credit!

At the same time, I hope you will read this and give me some feedback as this is also a work-in-progress approach for how I work with my clients on these topics.

It’s a longer than usual read, but skim through and stop, read more if you find something of interest to you. I have also added a number of images at the end. Enjoy!


The purpose is to help individuals, teams and leaders get even better at shaping the future in the context of people and organizational as well as market and business perspectives.

The key pillars are the growth mindset, psychological safety and innovation for an agile, learning organization.

The problem/challenge

In general, the leaders in most large organizations are very capable at managing the day-to-day activities while they struggle in terms of mindset, skills and tool-box on shaping the future activities.

The challenge is that leaders can’t become great leaders – or even good leaders – who can take your organization to the next level if they do not find the right balance between managing the day-to-day activities and shaping the future.

This balance should not be 50/50. It should not even be close to that as the day-to-day issues will always require more focus and attention than the future-shaping activities. However, the current balance of 90/10 as we see in most companies is not healthy and we need to change this in order to develop an organization that will be even more ready for a future driven by constant change and disruption on many levels.

Why do we need to work with the growth mindset and psychological safety in this context?

It’s quite simple. If these pre-requisites are not in place, you can’t build an environment that allows your organization to be good at shaping the future and then you are left with only being good at managing the day-to-day activities.

This has been enough to be successful for decades, but it will not work for the future. So, do you want your leaders to be stuck at the past and present or should they get ready for shaping the future as well?

The approach, solution

You can develop a tailored program based on The Collective Growth Mindset framework which helps you embrace and implement the growth mindset approach and complementary attributes such as psychological safety within your organization.

It’s a training and coaching program that builds on these five elements: Mindset, Shape/Pulse, Communicate, Learn and Network.

Here’s a short description on the elements for each area.

The mindset of your team

  • Know the mindset of yourself and your team members
  • Map the mindset of key stakeholders and/or a specific leadership team
  • Group reflection on behaviors and actions (if any) to be taken on this

The shape and pulse of your team

  • What’s in it for me? – address an important question
  • Know the T-shapes
  • Understand your level of psychological safety and ability to have hard conversations
  • Do you play to win or not to lose?
  • Know your barriers, obstacles and attack the root causes in the context of getting stuff done

The communication of and around your team

  • Know how to have the hard conversations
  • Build mechanisms to ensure better feedback
  • Create a common language (big picture, smaller tasks)
  • Work your stakeholders with consistent messages

The learning ways for your team

  • Know how you learn the best as individuals and as a team
  • Apply shared, peer learning for better access to “tacit” knowledge
  • Take the first steps for a PLC, a personal learning cloud

The network and networking capabilities of your team

  • Network for the future, not the past
  • The mindset of your network
  • Learn to build better networks and relationships

The key delivery elements within our program are training sessions (physical and on-demand) and coaching for individuals and teams. See more on this below.

Actions, desired achievements

Having the above five elements as the starting point, we focus on specific actions and desired achievements such as:

Identification of needs and opportunities

The Collective Growth Mindset framework offers much depth, but we need to make sure our efforts fit the needs and opportunities of our participants. We map this out and use it as the main guiding tool for our activities.

Training sessions

Shorter sessions (even micro-learning – few minutes) and up to full-day workshops are used to address the needs and opportunities. It will be a mix of inspirational insights and hands-on workshops. We focus on mindset as well as actions. This will be delivered physically and virtually and when possible, we will save this for on-demand learning.


Constructively thought-provoking coaching sessions will be made available for individuals as well as teams. Here, we can go in-depth with more specific and even personal elements.

Role models

We help leaders become role models on the growth mindset. We do this by minimizing and eliminating the negative behaviors while enforcing the positive behavior in the context of the growth mindset for teams and the organization.


Once, we are on track to help leaders become better role-models, we work with them to become good story-tellers on the growth mindset. This allows us to build a positive circle of strong communication that can help change behaviors for the better.

Hard conversations

Great leaders can facilitate hard conversation within their own leadership teams as well as within the teams they lead themselves. For this, we help them identify and address the weaknesses and strengths and we give them practical tools for having such conversations.

Conversation and feedback guides

We develop feedback guides and tools to help your people, teams and leaders get better at feedback. This goes for giving as well as receiving.

Network for the future, not just the past and the present

Networking, relationship skills are underrated and underserved. It’s unfortunately often assumed that this – networking – happens by itself. Not true as this requires direction, effort and time. We address this in the context that the people you network and associate yourself with are highly influential on what and how you learn. Thus, this impacts your mindset.

Behavioral metrics and KPI’s

There are too few metrics and KPI’s that focuses on behaviors and in particular some that can measure a “live” progress. We will address this through on-going self- and team assessments and the tracking a chosen keywords within the communication of our target groups.

Creating the psychological safety, team by team

Professor Amy C. Edmondson defines psychological safety as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.” We work with assessments and exercises to help your teams and organization to create a high level of psychological safety.

Personal learning cloud

Within the current learning systems at Wartsila, we build a personal learning cloud with training and materials that are targeted to and relevant for each participant. Although this has a personal starting point, it will also be social and collaborative as this is how we need to embrace and implement the growth mindset and its attributes.


I sense a lot of power and value in the growth mindset approach and its attributes like psychological safety, hard conversations, networking etc.

However, we are also in the early phases of developing the concepts and frameworks we need to make this happen within our organizations.

My ambition is to share what I know to help move this forward in a collective way. The tide rises all boats. We all win. Let’s help each other get better!

Thanks for reading this. Your likes, shares, questions and comments are much appreciated.

Image Credit: Pexels

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About Stefan Lindegaard

Stefan Lindegaard is an author, speaker and strategic advisor. His work focuses on corporate transformation based on disruption, digitalization and innovation in large corporations, government organizations and smaller companies. Stefan believes that business today requires an open and global perspective, and his work takes him to Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia. The author of several books including 7 Steps for Open Innovation; Social Media for Corporate Innovators and Entrepreneurs; Making Open Innovation Work, and The Open Innovation Revolution, you can follow him on LinkedIn.

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