Tim pioneered the field of data-driven cultural transformation and ranks as a global authority in senior executive development. He earned a Ph.D. in Social Science from Oxford University as a British Research Scholar and was a Fulbright Scholar at Seoul National University in Korea.
In this episode, Tim shares his favorite mistake story about a pattern of being overtaken by emotion when making a decision. What did he do about this pattern and what did he learn about hiring people for his company?
We also discuss the concept of “psychological safety” and what leaders need to do to create conditions where people can feel safe speaking up about mistakes, ideas for improvement, and more.
”Making mistakes is not a choice. Learning from them is. Whether we admit it or not, mistakes are the raw material of potential learning and the means by which we progress and move forward. Mark Graban’s The Mistakes That Make Us is a brilliant treatment of this topic that helps us frame mistakes properly, detach them from fear, and see them as expectations, not exceptions. This book’s ultimate contribution is helping us realize that creating a culture of productive mistake-making accelerates learning, confidence, and success.”timothy r. clark
Questions and Topics:
- Instead of the question I normally start with… how do you define “psychological safety”?
- How would you explain “vulnerable acts”?
- Why is it so much more helpful for leaders to MODEL behaviors??
- You can’t just demand that people “should” speak up in the hierarchy (healthcare or otherwise)??
- Why is the safety to learn from mistakes required for innovation to thrive?
Scroll down to find:
- Video version of the episode
- How to subscribe
- Full transcript
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)
Mark Graban (2s):
Episode 217 Timothy R, Clark, author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety,
Timothy R. Clark (9s):
Trying to figure out, oh, okay, which, which mistake I have many to choose from. I have a whole menu.
Mark Graban (19s):
I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake In. this podcast, you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes, because we all make mistakes. But what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at MyFavoriteMistake podcast.com to Learn more about Dr. Clark, his book, his company, and more. Look for links in the show notes, or go to markgraban.Com/mistake217. Well, hi everybody. Welcome to My Favorite Mistake.
Mark Graban (59s):
I'm Mark Graban. My guest today is Dr. Timothy R Clark. He's a organizational anthropologist. He's the founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, which is based in Utah. I'm really excited that he's here. I, I love his book. He's the author of five books, including his most recent, The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety. Tim has a PhD in social science from Oxford University. He was a British research scholar. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Sowell National University in Korea. So I'm real excited. I've learned so much, Tim, from your book, your podcast, the training class I was able to do last year. Welcome to the podcast. I'm gonna try not to be too awkward or starstruck here. Thank you.
Timothy R. Clark (1m 40s):
No, thanks, Mark. I'm, I'm delighted to be with you.
Mark Graban (1m 42s):
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for that. And I'm gonna have to remember, like, I hear your voice a lot when you're doing the podcast with Junior, and I'm gonna have to keep reminding myself that I get to interact with you.
Timothy R. Clark (1m 57s):
Hey, just, just, just, you know, we're friends, so we're just gonna have a conversation. Makes it nice. Sure.
Mark Graban (2m 3s):
Well, thank you for that. So, I'm gonna deviate a little bit, and I told Tim that I was thinking of doing that here. Normally the first question is about favorite mistakes, and we're gonna get to that. But I think it's important maybe to ground the conversation a little bit, Tim, if, if you would, if you give your definition of psychological safety, please.
Timothy R. Clark (2m 21s):
Right. So five words, a culture of rewarded vulnerability. That means I'm going to reward your acts of vulnerability and you're going to reward my acts of vulnerability. And out of that, if we, if we do that consistently, then that creates a prevailing norm where we can both model and reward vulnerability that creates a, an astonishingly powerful environment or culture where we can, we can really reach our potential and do work that we otherwise couldn't do.
Timothy R. Clark (3m 3s):
So that's my definition.
Mark Graban (3m 5s):
Yeah. Well, thank you for that. And we'll, we'll have a chance to talk more, I think, after the favorite mistakes story. But maybe just one other quick recap. you know, with the four stages of psychological safety, inclusion, safety learner safety contributor safety and challenger safety, one thing I try to do on the podcast, and I hope I've done with you, is that level of inclusion, safety where you feel accepted and respected. you know, inviting you to the podcast, I think is an act of welcoming inclusion. But I, I do appreciate, and this is more of a comment than a question, but I wanna hear your reaction to it before. The favorite mistake question.
Mark Graban (3m 47s):
The, the, the, the, the candor that my guests exhibit of, of, of, or the vulnerability to share a story about a mistake is something that I, I'm deeply grateful for. Not just because it creates content for a podcast, but I I it's just very generous of people. And I, I can't say it's bec strictly because I've created a comfortable environment for that. But I mean, what, what your reactions to to that?
Timothy R. Clark (4m 15s):
Yeah, my thoughts Mark on that. Well, it takes me to, I think what is a, a principle that I see over and over again, and that is that there is a direct correlation and a positive relationship between vulnerability and your ability to learn. So the more vulnerable we can become in, in our conversation, in this dialogue, the more we're gonna learn. Because we're, we're willing to explore, we're willing to dig, we're willing to excavate, we're willing to examine things at a deeper level.
Timothy R. Clark (4m 56s):
We are, we're trying to remove the inhibition, the fears, the doubts. And so what does that do? It op it, it, it allows greater learning. So that's what I would say where we achieve that, we, we tend to have better experiences.
Mark Graban (5m 15s):
So maybe it's an opportunity now to learn from your story and your reflections on it. I'll jump to the, the main question then, here, Tim, you know, the different things you've done. What would you say is your favorite mistake?
Timothy R. Clark (5m 28s):
Well, you asked me this a few days ago, so I've been reflecting on it, trying to figure out, oh, okay, which, which mistake I have many to choose from. I have a whole menu. I,
Mark Graban (5m 40s):
I've, I've learned, I'm sorry, interrupt. But yeah, this is not a question. You, you, you put people on the spot with
Timothy R. Clark (5m 45s):
No, no, I, I know, I know. But I tried to be reflective and I identified a pattern. This is maybe a category of mistake that we, we all make, but, and I've certainly made it more than once. But it's, it's a mistake where I was overtaken by emotion in making a decision. So think about when the way we make decisions. Well, typically we bring some data and evidence, we bring some kind of logic, some kind of logic tree to a decision. And, and then we make a decision.
Timothy R. Clark (6m 26s):
Now, Of course, I, I think it was, yeah, it was Daniel Kahneman that said, we, we are not thinking, thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think, so that helps us understand that the thinking brain and the feeling brain are interconnected. Not only interconnected, you can't pull them apart. And so when we make decisions, we, we have the intellect at work, but we also have emotions at work. And that interplay is very important, and we don't even fully understand how that works. But the mistake that I've made more than once is when I allowed the emotions to kind of commandeer or control or overtake the process.
Timothy R. Clark (7m 18s):
And so here's what I did. Well, can, and I can, can you give, can
Mark Graban (7m 21s):
You give an example before we talk about what you did about it? An an example kind of illustrates,
Timothy R. Clark (7m 26s):
Yeah. So I made this mistake twice the first time. So I hired the wrong person. And I, I had, I, I did it because, well, let, let, let me share a statement with you, mark, that I think is, is very instructive. This is a statement that has, will always stay with me. It's by Gertrude Himmelfarb. She's an American historian. She passed away three or four years ago, but she said, nothing is as seductive as the assurance of success. You, you gotta let that, that sink in. Nothing is as seductive as the assurance of success.
Timothy R. Clark (8m 10s):
So I remember, so I'm going back to the mistake. I hired this individual, this was years ago to an executive position. And the, the, the evidence wasn't really quite there, but the assurance of success that this person gave me created such a hope and a desire that it would work out. And, and I felt myself, you know, as in refl in, in, in retrospect, I realized I was, I was a victim of confirmation bias. I was telling myself, oh yeah, this is gonna work. So in the absence of the evidence that I really needed on the, on the intellectual side, I let, I let my emotions and my hopes and my aspirations dictate the decision.
Timothy R. Clark (9m 8s):
And I had tremendous buyer's remorse after this, because the individual was not able to perform anywhere close to the assurances that they gave. Now here's the sad part. I did this again. You, you think, oh, you know, rookie mistake. Okay, but I did do it again. I did it one more time and I could kick myself for it, because again, the evidence wasn't there, but the assurances were there, the assurances were there, but they were not based on the evidence.
Timothy R. Clark (9m 49s):
And I went with the assurances and instead of the evidence, and again, I met with really stinging and bitter unintended consequences that I had to absorb after the fact. Right. So twice on that mark, and I paid a heavy price for that.
Mark Graban (10m 9s):
Timothy R. Clark (10m 10s):
And it took me a while. And, and I just wasn't vigilant alert enough, disciplined enough. And I made the mistake twice. And it, it was a killer.
Mark Graban (10m 22s):
Well, I, I mean, I appreciate you sharing that. And I mean, I, you know, I mean, people make Mistakes like these, you know, you know, the thing about learning from them and, you know, not not beating ourselves up for 'em. Yeah. Did, did, in both cases, did you have to come to the realization of, of that person needing to be removed then from the organization? Yes. Yeah.
Timothy R. Clark (10m 46s):
Both times. Yeah.
Mark Graban (10m 48s):
Timothy R. Clark (10m 48s):
And even that, even it, it, and, and so then you're faced with the sunk cost issue, and you're thinking, okay, you know what? We'll just invest more. They're gonna get there. They're gonna get there, and you invest more. And at some point, you, you just have to cut your losses and move on. But even that is so difficult because you have invested a lot, and you're so hopeful that things are gonna work. But again, you're not, you, you are engaged in some level of self-deception because you're not truly objectively impartially looking at the evidence.
Timothy R. Clark (11m 32s):
You're right. Your confirmation bias is still at work, and, and you're dismissing the lack of, of solid evidence that this person is performing. And so you're still, you're still kind of, you, you're not being completely honest with yourself, or at least you're trying to be really hopeful, and then you're delaying the inevitable, which is you gotta take the person out.
Mark Graban (12m 2s):
Yeah. I mean, it, it, it seems like there's a situation where we either might not want to admit that it was a mistake. Yeah. Or we might make a mistake on top of the mistake of trying to stick with the person too long. The other thing, the other side might be true too, where, you know, you, you, you get rid of somebody right away, and then you think, well, maybe, maybe that was a mistake. Maybe I should have coached them up. Or you stuck with it longer. There's, there's no easy answers to decisions like these. We make the best decision you can in the moment. Right.
Timothy R. Clark (12m 30s):
It's true. But you know, what's interesting, mark, is, I mean, I've been managing people for a long time, and I can't think of one single example where I would say, oh, we took this person out two early. I cannot think of one example, but I can think of plenty where we, where we said, oh, we waited too long.
Mark Graban (12m 54s):
Yeah. You hear that a lot from executives. Yeah,
Timothy R. Clark (12m 57s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mark Graban (12m 59s):
So after a couple of cycles of going through this, what, what did you discover? What did you learn? What, what did you do about it?
Timothy R. Clark (13m 8s):
The old adage, higher, slow, fire, fast. Right. I, I have become just much more patient methodical about hiring and about disciplining myself to focus on the evidence. Now, I don't mean to say that we should be dismissive of gut or instinct or intuition. I'm not saying that at all those things are very important. In fact, we don't eat fully understand the interplay of the thinking brain and the feeling brain. We don't understand how the brain works to synthesize, to synthesize information and to draw conclusion sometimes.
Timothy R. Clark (14m 0s):
And So, we have to pay attention. We we're feeling something, we're having a misgiving, we're having a doubt. We're, we're worried about something. We have to pay attention to that, that intuition, that those instincts are very important. So I'm not, I'm not at all suggesting that we're just dismissing that, but what I am saying is, at least for myself, I had to learn to be very careful about allowing myself to be persuaded early based on reassurances.
Timothy R. Clark (14m 41s):
Right. Based on claims. you know, I can do this, we can do this. We're going to do this. We can achieve this. Where's the track record? We, we have to see a demonstrated track record. We have to see some significant evidence of what might be possible. So I've, I've become much more careful about demanding to see the evidence in the track record.
Mark Graban (15m 11s):
Yeah. Well, I appreciate you sharing the story and, and, and the reflections a vulnerable act in, in doing so, you know, to, to, to share, you know, to share that with an audience. So, you know, I, I appreciate that. you know, I think, and it goes to show you're not alone. That sometimes, I mean, many guests on the show have talked about how they, it took a couple of repeats of a mistake for it to really then start to register and for the awareness to build of, okay, I need to start doing something differently. So Right,
Timothy R. Clark (15m 45s):
Mark Graban (15m 45s):
You're, you're, you're not alone in that with these, these difficult decisions that leaders, entrepreneurs, leaders like yourself face.
Timothy R. Clark (15m 54s):
Mark Graban (15m 56s):
So I, I hope this, I I, I, I hope you feel like I'm back to terminology, rewarding your vulnerability. No punishing you. Tim, what's wrong with you? Why didn't you know
Timothy R. Clark (16m 6s):
Better? No, no, no. Not at, why
Mark Graban (16m 8s):
Didn't at all you learn faster? That's no.
Timothy R. Clark (16m 10s):
Yeah. And I, I'm, I'm very happy to share about that because the, what do we look the, the human mind and the human brain. We're always looking for ways to economize. We're, we're looking for cognitive shortcuts. We're looking for efficiencies. And, and so there, in, in that there's a temptation to tell ourselves a soothing story about maybe trying to get somewhere faster, to be more efficient. And I have to come back and tell myself again, and again and again, and I tell the team this, find the price.
Timothy R. Clark (16m 51s):
Pay the price. Don't even think about the concept of a shortcut. Shortcuts don't exist. Find the price. Find the price. Pay the price. This is, this is the only way to, to sustainable performance. And it's, it's, it's the only way that we can really build ourselves and build others for long-term success. So those are some of the things that I tell myself now.
Mark Graban (17m 23s):
Timothy R. Clark (17m 23s):
Mark Graban (17m 25s):
So I think we have, you know, this, this great opportunity to take a deeper dive into psychological safety, realizing, you know, for the audience, we're scratching the surface. I highly recommend Tim's book, the Four Stages of Psychological Safety. There is so much free knowledge and education that, that you and your team give away, Tim, through podcasts and webinars and YouTube videos. It's all out there for everyone. And I, I, I hope they will also buy the book. So, you know, I want to delve in, you know, there kinda a few specific questions that, that I have from trying to be a student of this, trying to help others learn. And, you know, one, I I, I'd like to go back and unpack the word vulnerability a little bit.
Mark Graban (18m 7s):
Sure. Back to your definition of psychological safety as a culture of rewarded vulnerability. Cause you know, it's interesting, like, people hear a word and they're like, oh, I know what that word means. But they might be thinking something different than your definition before, before asking for a definition. Like, one thing I hear people kind of respond to is that they, they hear the word vulnerable, and they, and they think, oh, that sounds weak. Yeah, I don't wanna be vulnerable, I don't wanna be weak. Or that being vulnerable is like sharing a personal story. Like, let me be vulnerable with you. And they might tell an embarrassing story, but that, that's not really the way you explain or define it, right?
Timothy R. Clark (18m 47s):
No, vulnerability is exposure to the risk of harm or loss. That's what it is. So you're, you are deliberately exposing yourself to that risk of harm or loss, but you have to in order to do the things that matter in life. So for example, here's the premise. Human interaction itself in all of its in, in, in every aspect is a vulnerable activity. Human interaction is a vulnerable activity. So we're not gonna, we're not gonna do anything productive, let's, without being vulnerable.
Timothy R. Clark (19m 28s):
Turns out that often the more vulnerable you can become, the better that you can do things. For example, you, you, you can't be yourself without being vulnerable. If, for example, if, if you don't, if it's expensive to be yourself, then you won't,
Mark Graban (19m 51s):
Timothy R. Clark (19m 52s):
It's risk, so you'll engage. Right? Yeah. It's risky. And, and so you'll engage in very predictable behavioral patterns such as armoring and masking and modulating and code switching. These are the things that humans do when they don't feel interpersonally safe. So they, they, it's expensive. And so they are an adaptable creatures. They're going to engage in behaviors that will help them with self preservation, with loss of avoidance, which makes sense. So, so back to your original question, what is vulnerability deliberately, well, not always deliberately, but, but often deliberately exposing yourself to the, that interpersonal risk.
Timothy R. Clark (20m 46s):
But in doing that, it opens up the possibility of all of these rewards, and we can talk more about what those rewards are. And so if you're not willing to be vulnerable, then you're stuck. Right? You're, you're, you're stuck. You're stuck in your personal development, you're stuck in your relationships, you're stuck in your learning, you're stuck in your contribution, you're stuck in your ability to innovate. You're stuck.
Mark Graban (21m 16s):
Sure. But when you, you talk about the role of leaders, and I think earlier you talked about modeling and rewarding vulnerable acts. If someone's new to a team, and you know, we think of examples of vulnerable acts asking a question, saying, I don't know how to do something. Say, I could be wrong. I made a mistake. Maybe there's a better way. Those are all vulnerable acts in the sense that somebody could ignore you or punish you or attack you for using your voice and for speaking up. And, you know, I think it's interesting when you see somebody come into an organization from surveys that you can say is generally speaking, a relatively psychologically safe environment.
Mark Graban (22m 2s):
And I know there's, there's variation around an average. It doesn't mean it's equally safe for everybody. But when someone's new to a team and they're joining from an organization where they did get yelled at for not knowing something, they got punished for simple human error. Like, it's, it's just interesting to see, or to hear people's reflections. It's not like they can flip a switch and say like, oh, I'm in a safe space now I can, I can change my behavior. Cuz they've been conditioned
Timothy R. Clark (22m 28s):
Mark Graban (22m 29s):
That speaking up, they, they don't just fear that it's risky. It's been demonstrated that it's risky.
Timothy R. Clark (22m 34s):
Yeah. They have evidence. And so even if, as you say, even if they move teams and they co and they go from one team and they come to your team, they do not, they don't arrive ready to go. They don't arrive ready to be themselves or ready to learn because they've come out of punished vulnerability, which to a certain extent is trauma. And so they, they bear the impact of that experience that, that that experience lingers into the future. And until there's evidence to the contrary that they can see right as they do threat detection that, oh, look, look what e everyone else is doing.
Timothy R. Clark (23m 20s):
Look what Mark is doing. He's engaging in these acts of vulnerability and he's being rewarded for doing that. And it registers and it registers and it registers and you, you build up this, this new evidence that says this, it looks like you can do this and not be punished, but actually be rewarded. And, and so then the, so the person has to be re socialized and, and then amazing things can happen. But if you're the leader, then don't assume that people are coming to your team and they're ready to go. So you, one of the things that I like to say, mark, is that as the leader, you have the first mover obligation to create the conditions for psychological safety.
Timothy R. Clark (24m 11s):
The leader is responsible for conditions and, and that that re that responsibility never goes away. Nor is it a responsibility that you can delegate or, or even abdicate even if you wanted to, right? Sure. That's just part of your, part of the job.
Mark Graban (24m 33s):
Yeah. So can you explain a little more, the one thing I think is really powerful about this framework that you lay out, it's not enough for leaders to encourage people to speak up or to encourage vulnerability or to say that it's safe. Like why is it so much more powerful for a leader to lead by example? you know, think of in a workplace where, you know, the c e o is very willing to say, I made a mistake, or I've got an idea, but I don't know that it's perfect, so let's go test it and see Yeah. Like, why, why is that that modeling so much more helpful?
Timothy R. Clark (25m 11s):
Well, first of all, it shows the way, right? We say in writing, don't tell me, show me. So someone needs to show us how this is done. We need a model that we can imitate. That's how we learn. We, we learn through imitation, especially behaviorally. So I need someone, so I need to be able to say, oh, look at Mark, mark is, oh, that's how you do it. So, so that's what it looks like. I, so now I have a model that I can follow, I can imitate number two. I need, I need evidence that I can do it and that I won't be punished.
Timothy R. Clark (25m 57s):
So I just, I j I just need, I need a, a body of evidence that tells me that it's okay, that I won't be punished, that I'll be rewarded for these vulnerable acts. So if the leaders are telling us, oh, you need to speak up, but they have not created the conditions that would allow us to speak up. They are essentially asking us to muscle through the fear. Yeah. Well, who's gonna do that?
Mark Graban (26m 26s):
Timothy R. Clark (26m 27s):
A few outliers will do that, but everyone else will not do that. Yeah. And it's not only ineffective, mark, I would go so far as to say it's disingenuous to even ask if you haven't created those conditions, because you're responsible for those conditions as the leader, that's your job. And so it, it, I I I, I talk about this in, in, and I call this rhetorical reassurance where Right. The leader gets up in front of people and says, Hey, hey, we're, we're gonna have psychological safety. Now go ahead and speak up. What, what changed? Yeah. You, you, you, so you're gonna legislate that into Yeah.
Timothy R. Clark (27m 11s):
With your words, this doesn't work. Right. you know, you can't, you can't do this by decree or by fiat. It doesn't work that way. Yeah,
Mark Graban (27m 18s):
Yeah. Right there, there's this phrase, and I don't know if I if I got it from you or, but this idea of like, this word providing, you know, I think like if you hear someone say, we're gonna provide psychological safety, I'm like, well, you can provide donuts Yeah. For the meeting. But psychological safety is not that simple. It's not something you buy or install. It's not a project
Timothy R. Clark (27m 39s):
Install. I like that. Yeah. And by the way, it's delicate and it's dynamic. It's perishable. The, it's and So, we don't, it's not, it's not a project where I got that done. Let's move on to the next priority. This is ongoing. This is, this requires constant modeling, constant reinforcement. It, it's, it's an eternal process in culture.
Mark Graban (28m 16s):
Right? Right. Yeah. And you know, when, when you, you talk about people being brave or courageous or powering through, like when in healthcare environments, I cringe when I hear discussions around nurses or people speaking up in a power dynamic where they, they're not the most powerful person. And you know, you hear people say things like, well, you, you should speak up. You should c should challenge that surgeon. It's your professional responsibility. And I'm like, that just does not seem helpful or effective
Timothy R. Clark (28m 49s):
Mark Graban (28m 50s):
To give, it's not even rhetorical reassurance. It's more like a, just a demand.
Timothy R. Clark (28m 54s):
Right. And, and, and there's
Mark Graban (28m 56s):
Timothy R. Clark (28m 56s):
Risk. Yeah. So let's go back to the fact that we, we typically work in hierarchies, which means that there, there are power differentials. And when the power distance is large, then what you're asking me to do, if you, if if you're asking me to challenge someone that's higher in the hierarchy, you're asking me to assume a much greater risk. So the potential liability, the potential exposure and the potential liability for me personally, is massive. Furthermore, I'm probably socialized to give deference to the chain of command.
Timothy R. Clark (29m 38s):
And that's what we call authority bias. And so think about the obstacles. I've gotta overcome the authority bias, the exaggerated deference to the chain of command, the right, the personal exposure and liability, the potential for repercussions. Reprisals, I have to overcome all of that. And you're just telling me I should do that. Excuse me. So, so when do, how do we get realistic about what it requires for the person that's subordinate to actually engage in that behavior?
Timothy R. Clark (30m 24s):
We have to enable that to happen, or it's not going to happen. That's why the flight attendant doesn't challenge the pilot. That's why the nurse doesn't challenge the cardiothoracic surgeon. That's why the overhead crane operator does not challenge the foreman on the shop floor. And, and so unless there's a way to equalize this and remove at least most of the threat of punishment adverse consequences, then we don't do it.
Mark Graban (31m 5s):
Right. Right. And, and, and what you're pointing out there, I think is how it's so situational. And I think it's interesting to see when you work in different cultures, different organizations, different environments, or even bouncing between teams, none of us, I, I, well, it's quite often that we, we feel a different sense of psychological safety in those different teams, even though we're the same person bringing our own history and experiences or personality into a situation where, you know, to, to de to not make it about me. I think of people I've worked with in professional settings where they were just, just beaten down Yeah. Over decades, you know, conditions to just keep your head down.
Mark Graban (31m 48s):
Don't speak up, don't be a troublemaker. you know, say, well, that person's not brave, but how much do you bet a lot of these people with their family, if they're coaching a team at their church, wherever, they're probably asking questions and challenging the status quo and like, and that, that that different environment is allowing them maybe to be themselves Yeah. In a way that their workplace, sadly, is not
Timothy R. Clark (32m 15s):
Isn't that true? So you, you, you, you've just raised a, an amazing point mark, which is we traverse across often many different microcultures in life. We get up in the morning, we're at home, what's that like? And then maybe we go to the gym, and then maybe we go to work and then may maybe we, maybe we go to the book club and maybe, maybe it's the food truck around the corner, and then maybe it's what, who knows. And then maybe we coach a, a little league team after that.
Timothy R. Clark (32m 57s):
And each one is a different, as you say, it's a different culture, has a different level of psychological safety. And what if work is an oppressive environment that that does beat you down? And I, I, I find it interesting the language that you just used, because this is so often been used where don't, don't cause trouble. Well, hang on a second. Let, let, let's break this down.
Mark Graban (33m 25s):
Timothy R. Clark (33m 26s):
We only do two things in organizations. We do, we do execution and we do innovation. And execution means delivering value today. And, and innovation means delivering value tomorrow. Execution is about the reduction of variants. Innovation is about the introduction of variants. Innovation requires divergent, non-linear thinking. It requires constructive dissent. So when someone says, don't cause trouble, what are you talking about?
Mark Graban (34m 4s):
Timothy R. Clark (34m 5s):
We, we are trying to deliver value today and figure out how to deliver value tomorrow. We need divergent thinking. We need constructive dissent. So this just flies in the face of what it requires to build up the adaptive capacity of an organization. But you're absolutely right, Mark, for, for some people, perhaps many people, it's been, it's been rung out of them. Yeah. They, they, they don't do it. They don't even, they don't even, they don't challenge the status quo.
Timothy R. Clark (34m 46s):
They, they're that it's been made very clear to them that, you know, that's not welcome behavior, and yet we need it in every organization. That's, that is so paradoxical. Right.
Mark Graban (35m 1s):
And I, I'm sure you could look at a history of how many different tech companies that had some great innovation, and they were growing and they had an innovative phase, and then they level out and they fossilize and then they end up That's right. Dying. Yeah. How much of that is, it could be due technology changes or what have you, but how much of that is due to that culture creeping in now of, of leader behaviors that stifle innovation? And then maybe they start yelling and screaming and demanding more innovation, like, well, no, it doesn't, that doesn't put, that's really true on track, right?
Timothy R. Clark (35m 35s):
Yeah, it's really true. I did, I did a, a Harvard Business Review article, I don't know, a few months ago on the innovative side. And the connection between psychological safety and innovation and the central finding that I put in the article is this, the quality of interaction regulates the speed of discovery. So how, how are we interacting? Can we interact with vulnerability? Can we act with candor? Can we interact with challenging each other? If we can, that quality will, we'll regulate the speed of our discovery.
Timothy R. Clark (36m 17s):
But if we can't do that, then we limit ourselves. We, we block our, our our own progress. And that's what it comes down to. People have enormous abilities to, to innovate, to be creative, to make improvements, but a lot of times they, they, they get shut down. Yeah.
Mark Graban (36m 49s):
Well, I hope, you know, between what you're teaching and sharing in different ways, that inspires some people to rethink some things. you know, maybe there'll be a discussion where a leader says, Hey, I was making that mistake of punishing people for speaking up. And as you know, as you shared a little bit with your story, Tim, maybe they, they start challenging things and taking on some new, new practices the way you did. So I think what you're sharing, I I I know it's, it's, it's opening some people's eyes and inspiring them to, to move in that direction of, as, as you say, you know, both modeling and rewarding vulnerable acts. I appreciate what you're doing to, to help teach and, and share and inspire people on that.
Timothy R. Clark (37m 32s):
Well, thank you. Yeah. I think if you, if you think about what courageous leadership really means, to be courageous is to invite the challenging behavior, to invite the dissent, right? To give people a license to disagree and say, we really need you to lose, use that license. That may be the supreme test of a leader to be able to receive all of that and appreciate all of that, and process all of that and really unleash the power of the team. Yeah. That way.
Mark Graban (38m 8s):
Yeah. Yeah. I love, not just as, as, as you say, not just tolerating dissent, but encouraging it. Yeah. There's a big difference there.
Timothy R. Clark (38m 18s):
Big difference. Yeah. Yep.
Mark Graban (38m 20s):
Well, today, again, we've been joined by Tim Clark, his company is Leader Factor. The book again, is The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety. And, and maybe one, one question here to, to wrap up, you know, the four stages, framework, you know, fourth stage challenger safety, as you described, that's the innovation zone. There are different things we need to do to get there. So on the theme of this podcast, I'm gonna ask you about just one of, you know, why, why is that safety, to be able to admit Mistakes and to learn from them? Why, why is that so important if innovation is going to thrive?
Timothy R. Clark (38m 58s):
Well, if we go back, Mark, psychological safety is a function of respect and permission. So if you share your Mistakes, if you publicly acknowledge what maybe you don't understand or where you need help, or you ask for help. If, if you are publicly engaging in acts of vulnerability, what are you doing? You're giving others permission to do the same. So that's the second, that's the second requirement for psychological safety. Number one, respect, number two, permission through your own vulnerability. You give others permission. And then they are much more likely to engage in those acts of vulnerability themselves.
Mark Graban (39m 41s):
Yeah. Yeah. It's very well said. So Tim, thank you so much. It's been a real honor and a treat to have you here on the podcast. Really appreciate you taking the time and sharing so much with us Today.
Timothy R. Clark (39m 53s):
Oh, thanks. It's been a privilege, Mark Thanks so much.
Mark Graban (39m 55s):
Thank you. Well, again, Thanks so much to Tim for being a guest here today. To learn more about him, his amazing book, his company, and more, look for links in the show notes or go to MarkGraban.Com/mistake217. As always, I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own Mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive. I've had listeners tell me they started being more open and honest about Mistakes in their work, and they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems, because that leads to more improvement and better business results. if you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me MyFavoriteMistakepodcast@gmail.com.
Mark Graban (40m 38s):
And again, our website is MyFavoriteMistakePodcast.com.