During a recent podcast organised by ICF Pittsburgh we talked about why safety, trust and presence build successful corporate culture and leadership.

As part of their Beyond the Basics: Advanced Topics in Coaching Course, ICF Pittsburg featured a range of topics taken from the book: Professional Coaching- Principles and Practice by Springers Publications.

Safety, Trust & Presence are the basis for the chapter: Managing “Invisible” Cultural Issues to Create Partnerships That Work, which I authored not only for coaches working across boarders but also with managers, entrepreneurs and directors of organisations in mind

Why safety, trust and presence build successful corporate culture and leadership was one of the topics that came forward. When you want to ignite corporate change or create a more meaningful company culture, you will want to ensure that safety, trust and presence are at the heart of anything you do.

Why are safety, trust and presence such an important part of your leadership coaching and corporate training programs?

Edmee: Let me begin by defining what culture means for me, because everyone has a different definition of culture. Anthropologists talk about culture in terms of beliefs, artefacts and things like that. But for me, it is our experiences and values that enhance our sense of culture the most.

Our experiences can be: studying for a qualification, moving home, getting married, beginning to converse in a new language. All of these experiences will enhance your culture – the environment in which you live.

When we experience big changes within our environment, it can be scary. When we are scared, we experience fear and that’s what bias is – fear. That is why managing cultural diversity is so difficult. It is under these conditions that bias takes root. We look at a new situation, such as cultural diversity and we think everything here suddenly looks a bit scary –so let me keep myself safe over there. That’s what bias is about, it is about keeping safe because you feel fear.

Often we think fear is about being negative, but it is not. It is not about looking at the world in a negative way. It is a concern for safety. Our own safety. It is about: How can I feel safe? I’m not concerned about the others – how can I feel safe within this new situation?

That’s why safety is such an important theme. Within that sense of fear, I believe that you can only feel safe if you are willing to trust. If you are able to open yourself up to the new experiences, to understand that other people can look at the same thing as you and see something in a different way.

You can only do that if you are present and willing to connect.

Imagine a ball. As you turn it in different ways, it looks different, because of where the light falls or it because it has got a bit dirty, dented maybe, but all of those factors makes the ball distinct, it gives it personality. If you only look at one side of the ball, you don’t know what is happening on the other side, it is like the moon.

We look at the moon every night and we talk about the dark side, but how many of us know that the dark side is lighter than the side that we see? When I heard that, I was amazed and it really opened my mind, I wanted to imagine what else was there. That is what safety, trust and presence do, they open your mind to new possibilities and you become genuinely interested in the change.

That’s why safety, trust and presence are so important to every aspect of my work whether it is coaching leaders, delivering cultural diversity training to organisations or supporting a company with a cultural awareness project.

If we can build a corporate culture where everyone feels safe, valued, seen and trusted, then we have an organisation that is destined for success.

I am committed to supporting corporate leaders and organisations to understand the important role that culture plays in organisational success. Through both executive coaching and corporate training, I continue to help organisations find solutions to implement projects and manage teams.


This post is the last in a 3-part series:

Part 1: Why values fuel successful leadership

Part 2: What is the most powerful way to improve corporate culture?