Fearless Pioneers Talking Psychological Safety – Alison Lowe OBE

Alison Lowe
Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime at West Yorkshire Combined Authority

About Alison

Alison is the current Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in West Yorkshire, with delegated PCC functions from the elected Mayor. In this role Alison holds the force to account for delivery of an effective policing service to the 2.4 million people of the county. She also lead nationally on Race Disparities, Equality and Human Rights as a member of the APCC. She is the former CEO of Touchstone, a community-based mental health charity specialising in diverse communities, as well as a Leeds City Councillor for 29 years, on behalf of the Labour Party.

Q1 Why do you believe psychological safety is so important for organisations?

Feeling safe within the workplace is key to high performance and psychological wellbeing. As Touchstone CEO, I co-created a happy and successful organisation where difference was celebrated and all staff felt safe to be themselves. As a result, we achieved our business goals as well as our charitable objectives.

Psychological safety also ensures the values and policies of an organisation are followed and complaints of harassment, discrimination or bullying do not occur, as those behaviours do not happen, as everyone has a shared interest and responsibility for maintaining the safe space.

Q2 Which organisational layer and enabler are most important to psychological safety?

Self. When I started to understand the impact of my own behaviours on the PS of my workplace, I recognised the power I had to transform the organisation for good, but also to create a safe space for myself too. I acknowledged the trauma and experiences that had impacted me in my life and I shared these with all my colleagues. This took time and practice, and I also benefited from coaching on my journey but once I realised the power of me, I stopped the behaviours that belied my stated values and I lived them, instead. This allowed other colleagues to do the same and we Co produced an ecosystem with safety of all at its heart.

Fairness is one of my biggest personal values. In an companies where fairness is an organisational value, everyone is hrld to account for the way they behave towards each other. Fairness, as an end in itself, also drives strategy, policy, training, research and delivery for staff and the end users.


Q3. What do you think are the biggest challenges in creating psychological safety?

Fear. Leaders don’t want to be vulnerable and think this makes them look weak, when actually, it makes them better.