I knew that Simon Sinek’s “Circle of Safety” concept had become a buzzword when someone shared a story about being in a meeting and someone whispered “circle of safety” while making a circle motion with their arms.  What that person really meant was, “I’m about to tell you something in confidence. Don’t tell anyone else.”

That’s actually the opposite of a Circle of Safety.  As Simon says, a Circle of Safety is a culture of trust.  If you haven’t seen Simon’s TED Talk “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe”, you can watch it here: https://bit.ly/1oOTUAC

I recently re-watched his talk and came away being reminded of a couple things.  First, the good news.  The good news is, we (that’s right – you, me, everyone around us) have control over the things that are going on inside our organization because of how we personally choose to behave.  That piece is 100% in our control.

Now, the tricky part.  The tricky part is if creating a safe culture for everyone is our goal, individuals within the culture must trust each other.  Yes, trust.  Yes, I know it’s hard.  Yes, I know there are people you’re thinking of right now that you don’t trust.   Yes, you have to be willing to set judgement aside.  The million dollar question here?  How do you create trust?

To get trust you have to give it.  You have to be willing to give it.  You must be willing to go first.

Here are 25 things you can try first. 

My Be First To List:

1.   Make eye contact and say good morning! 

2.   Know what your colleagues’ coffee orders are and surprise them occasionally.

3.   Schedule a team lunch just for fun.

4.   Ask about someone’s weekend.

5.   Walk over to a colleague’s desk and answer that e-mail in person.

6.   Pick up the phone to answer an e-mail.

7.    Say “I don’t know, I’ll have to check on that” in a meeting.

8.    Apologize.

9.   Offer help on a project.

10. Admit a mistake.

11.  Let someone else present first.

12. Say you’re in over your head on this project.

13. Compliment someone on their promotion.  (Be specific.  Why were they a good choice?  Tell them.)

14. Ask a question.

15. Tell someone that you didn’t understand something.

16. Defend someone who isn't there to do it for themselves.

17. Listen.  Really listen.  Turn off the screen.

18. Invite a colleague to lunch that you don’t know well.

19. Ask your direct reports to tell you one thing you do really well

20. Ask your direct reports to tell you one thing they think you could do differently

21. Admit your biggest mistake and what you learned from it.

22. Talk about the one piece of your work that you struggle with.

23.  Stay late to help someone meet their deadline.

24. Compliment someone on a job well done.  (Be specific. What did they do?)

25. Ask for help.

These aren’t one and done actions.  These are things that you have to consistently do over time… again, and again.  When done consistently over time, you can start building a foundation of trust, collaboration and most important?  A Circle of Safety. 

Don’t let the Circle of Safety be reduced to “shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.”  We spend so much of our days, weeks, years at work.  Let’s make them places filled with trust and collaboration.  Everyone wins when that happens.

What else would you add to the list?