Psychological Safety & Ethical Leadership

The recent case of alleged fraud and financial mismanagement within the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) highlights the importance of ethical behavior and effective decision-making processes in organizations. The lack of oversight, inadequate internal controls, and insufficient training or communication with employees about ethical standards are possible causes that brought significant repercussions for both the employees and stakeholders.

The idea to inflate publication figures and purchase fictitious circulation is not only ethically problematic but also flawed from a design thinking perspective. It's important for organizations to not only prioritize ethical behavior but also to ensure that ideas and strategies are thoroughly vetted and tested before they are implemented.

There were many opinions about the alleged fraud and financial mismanagement within the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). While many raised the issue of breakdowns in its checks and balances that allowed the allegedly fraudulent behavior to occur, I noted few mentioned how establishing a climate of psychological safety in workplaces can prevent approving and executing ideas with detrimental repercussions. 

In an environment where employees feel safe to question the integrity and effectiveness of ideas, it's more likely that flawed or unethical ideas will be identified and rejected at an early stage. This can help prevent issues from escalating and potentially causing significant harm to the organization and its stakeholders.

By encouraging a culture of openness and collaboration, organizations can promote innovation and creativity while also ensuring that ideas and strategies are thoroughly evaluated and aligned with the organization's values and objectives. This can involve implementing processes such as design thinking, which emphasizes empathy and experimentation to identify and test new ideas in a safe and iterative manner.

In the case of SPH, one would have thought at least one person in the organization would point out how unsustainable the idea was. And that brings to mind the buzzword in the business world - psychological safety. Often touted as a fundamental factor in nurturing creative courage and risk-taking, we overlooked its importance in ethical leadership. A psychologically safe place is not a comfortable place where everyone is a yes-person. Instead, it allows everyone to speak up with points of view that may be uncomfortable but are constructive in helping colleagues and stakeholders to consider new ways of thinking!
Creating a psychological safe space is a team effort. It also thrives well if there are rules and behavioural guidelines to ensure team members respect and uphold attitudes and values that promote taking interpersonal risks. But what if an organization does not have this intiative in place? How can individual be proactive in constructing a psychological safe space?

Well the good news is positive enviroments are often created from attitudinal changes. In our course Fostering A Growth Mindset At Work, we explore how to cultivate attitudes that build a growth system with a safe psychological climate at work. Individuals can take proactive steps to create a psychological safe space by demonstrating the behaviours they want to see in others, speaking up, actively listening, providing constructive feedback, encouraging diversity of thought, and being supportive.

Back to blog

Thrive Amidst Uncertainty

Feeling stuck in life or work? Uncertain about starting fresh? We all encounter moments of stagnation and uncertainty. At Coaching At 72 Smalldive, our coaching classes help you cultivate transformative mindset changes and habits, to break free from this inertia. Explore our methodology, and subscribe to our newsletter for essential insights to kickstart your journey to growth and fulfillment.