Any time a concept becomes known it takes time until it becomes one that is widely known. Once that stage is reached, it won’t take as much time until it is widely accepted. That is the moment the concept transformed into a marketing argument for many.
Thus, safe space now becomes a promise as well as an expectation.
But safe space is an assumption that people experiencing psychological safety are willing to test. And only the outcome will show if it was indeed a safe enough space to dare vulnerability. Another important detail is that it can’t be generalized to everyone in the group. The sense of psychological safety is too individual. One person’s sense of safety can trigger someone else’s sense of insecurity.
Making it a promise also has an interesting side effect: It creates the assumption that someone else is responsible for it. It’s a door opener for passivity. Instead of verifying with themselves if they are willing to open up, people easily fall back into waiting to feel safe.
Leadership isn’t about making promises that can’t be kept. Leadership is the effort to raise the sense of psychological safety until it frees people to be at their best to contribute to the team and its result without transforming everyone into daredevils.