Amy Edmondson | How leaders nurture psychological safety
Play • 45 min

In this episode of Let Go & Lead, Maril talks with lauded author, scholar and Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, whose pioneering research into psychological safety has massively impacted the world of work. Amy breaks down what psychological safety is, what it isn’t and three key things leaders need to do to foster it.


Over a ranging conversation, she and Maril discuss the immense importance of leaders in the middle; why leaders need to maintain a beginner’s mind; and why psychological safety — or, as Amy defines it, “permission for candor” — must be balanced with a commitment to excellence for an organization to succeed.


Learn about: 

3:30 How to build a learning organization

7:03 Creating an environment of psychological safety

12:56 The changing dynamics of modern teams

20:23 Key misconceptions about psychological safety

22:51 Fostering psychological safety in uncertain times

32:32 The science of “Failing Well”

37:55 What leaders need to let go of



Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, a chair established to support the study of human interactions that lead to successful enterprises contributing to societal betterment.

Edmondson has been recognized by the biannual Thinkers50 global ranking of management thinkers since 2011 and most recently ranked #1 in 2021. She also received the Breakthrough Idea Award in 2019 and the Talent Award in 2017 from the organization. She focuses her research on teaming, psychological safety and organizational learning, and her articles have been published in various academic and management outlets, including Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Harvard Business Review and California Management Review.

Her book, The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth (Wiley), published in 2019, has been translated into 15 languages. Edmondson's upcoming book, Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well (Atria), offers a framework for wise thinking, discussion and practice of failure, utilizing human fallibility as a tool for personal and organizational growth. The release date is set for September 5, 2023. 



Let Go & Lead is a leadership community created by Maril MacDonald, founder and CEO of Gagen MacDonald. Maril brings together provocateurs, pioneers, thought leaders and those leading the conversation around culture, transformation and change. 

Over the course of the past 12 years, Let Go & Lead has existed in many forms, from video interviews to resource guides to its current iteration as a podcast. At its core, it remains a place where people can access a diversity of perspectives on interdisciplinary approaches to leadership. Maril is also working on a book incorporating these insights gathered over the past several years from global leaders and change makers.  


Maril has interviewed over 120 leaders — from business to academia and nonprofits to the arts — through the years. In each conversation, from personal anecdotes to ground-breaking scientific analysis, she has probed the lessons learned in leadership. From these conversations, the Let Go & Lead framework has emerged. It is both a personal and organizational resource that aims to serve the individual leader or leadership at scale. 



At Gagen MacDonald, we are dedicated to helping organizations navigate the human struggle of change. We are a people-focused consulting firm and our passion is improving the employee experience — for everyone. For almost 25 years, we have been working with companies to create clarity from chaos by uniting employees across all levels around a single vision so they can achieve results and realize their future.

We have been a pioneer in bringing humanity to strategy execution, leading in areas such as organizational communication, culture, leadership, and employee engagement. Our Vision is to lift all humanity by transforming the companies that transform the world.


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Gagen MacDonald is a strategy execution consulting firm that specializes in employee engagement, culture change and leadership development. Learn more at

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