Leadership Makes People Feel Emotionally Safe and Secure

People are most productive in an emotionally safe and supportive atmosphere. From a leadership point of view, this means that it is critical to make sure people feel cared for in ways that are meaningful to them.

People come to work looking for security. They are happier and more productive if they feel someone cares. Leadership conveys to people that they are cared for and that things are going to be okay. This is not false optimism, but a feeling that there is safety by virtue of common effort through your leadership.

Leaders make sure the people on their team know that they matter. Leaders listen to them when they have something to say and follow up when they say they will. Leaders stand up for their team when the chips are down. They look for opportunities to praise and encourage. Leaders nurture. And the great thing about this is that these activities cost essentially nothing.

Providing nurturance and security comes in a variety of guises. Whether it is making sure the team has a welcoming work environment, being concerned about individual welfare, or responding to concerns, leaders convey that they care, and that it is safe. And people read this quality in a leader through subtle cues and practical effort. It is not easy to fake.

But what do you as leaders get out of the arrangement? It is not just a one way arrangement with effort emanating from you. It is something more basic, more fundamental than performance. It’s trust. When leaders provide the security employees need, they trust you to lead them. They commit themselves to the mission of the organization and act as autonomous persons contributing to optimal business outcomes. That trust makes your job so much easier. I’d say it is win-win for both sides.

Remembering that people are most productive in an emotionally safe and supportive atmosphere determines that your fundamental approach to your staff will be nurturing. You will commit yourself as a leader to actively care for your people. You will naturally provide support and encouragement on a personal level and through the programs of your organization. You will insure the safety and security of your workers. And, no matter what, you will avoid any hint of rejection all the while connecting emotionally with your people.

Tom DeMaio, PhD


  1. June 16, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I am studying this topic in my PhD dissertation. I have found so far that effective leaders develop the potential of others, and are open to feedback. They look for what is working with others which helps those around them risk and grow. What I find particularly interesting is that they have thoughts that support their confidence in the midst of adversity, crisis, feedback and change.
    Loved your post.
    Mary-Ann Owens, Calgary Based Executive Coach and Leadership Development Facilitator

    • June 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm

      Thanks Mary-Ann. Looks like we agree. Best of luck with the dissertation.
      Tom DeMaio

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