Creating a safe workplace: Leadership and Psychological Safety
Abstract: The success of numerous organisations nowadays, especially in the IT sector, is closely connected with project success. Project managers can influence and determine how a project is run and its overall success, as it has been well established throughout the literature. Psychological safety has also been found to affect different organisational aspects, including project success. Nevertheless, there needs to be more research regarding this topic in the leadership literature, especially in the information technology and systems domain. This study investigates how different leadership styles, and their behavioural characteristics can affect team members' psychological safety in IT project teams. Thus, the study was formulated around the following research questions: “What are the most commonly used leadership styles in IT Project Management?” and “How do the different leadership styles impact employees' psychological safety?”. In order to gain a better understanding and utilise each method’s advantages (qualitative and quantitative), a mixed-method approach has been chosen, with the use of a survey to gather empirical data. Throughout the study, we obtained 47 responses regarding the questionnaire from members of IT project teams, and 9 semi-structured interviews were conducted with the project managers/team leadersfrom those respective teams. The results indicated that IT project teams are led mainly by individuals who present characteristics of agile and democratic elements in their style. Furthermore, these leadership styles have also been found to favour team psychological safety by promoting a climate that values trust and cooperation. The study contributes to the existing literature in the fields of project management and psychological safety and provides practical implications for leaders and organisations within the IT sector. Since the study was limited to only a few IT project teams and organisations, it can serve as a starting point for future research that could further investigate the relationship between leadership and psychological safety and help practitioners better capitalise on the benefits of effective leadership.
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