Lead Better by Being More Human with Minette Norman · ShiftWorkPlace

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Ep98 Lead Better by Being More Human with Minette Norman


Become a better leader by being more human.

Bio for Minette Norman

Minette Norman focuses on developing transformational leaders who create inclusive working environments with a foundation of psychological safety. She is deeply committed to fostering workplace inclusion and is a sought-after speaker in psychological safety, inclusive cultures, radical empathy, and collaborative teams. 

Based on their own experiences and those of their clients, Minette and her co-author Karolin aim to start a movement to create psychologically safe workplaces around the globe. While academic research is abundant on the psychological safety concept, they found limited practical information on how to implement psychologically safe environments where one can speak up without the risk of punishment or humiliation. 

Karolin and Minette developed The Psychological Safety Playbook, which launched on February 22, 2023. This is the first concise and practical guide for implementing psychological safety in the workplace. The Psychological Safety Playbook provides 25 proven strategies to help leaders increase their teams’ psychological safety and lead more powerfully by being more human. It is a must-read for any leader or manager looking to develop the highest-performing, highly inclusive, and most innovative teams.

Episode highlight

Minette Norman was born in New Jersey and grew up in California. Her dream was to become an actress. In school, she studied drama and French. At some point, she realized how hard it was to become an actress because of the numerous auditions and rejections. She decided to fall back to French and ended up securing a job at the French Trade Commission, New York. The job opportunity allowed her to use computers for the first time, and she became so good at it that she started helping people with software.

She moved back to California when Silicon Valley was getting started and became a technical writer for Photoshop version 1.0. That marked the beginning of her career in the software industry. In this episode, Minette shares her career journey, how she met her co-author Karolin and what influenced her leadership style.



  • “You do not get to tap into the genius of the people you’ve hired and the diverse perspectives unless you have a strong foundation of psychological safety.”
  • “The only way I was a successful leader in any way is that I connected one-to-one with human beings.”
  • “Every single person in every single group environment, whether it’s a work environment or a social environment, all have a very large influence on how people around you are feeling in terms of their level of feeling included and feeling psychologically safe.”


How Karolin and Minette Met

Karolin and Minette have been working together for two years; amazingly, they have never met in person. These two amazing ladies met in an online or virtual class in early 2021. It was based on the work of Amy Edmondson, who’s the premier researcher on psychological safety. One day, Minette was on a podcast with one of their classmates, and Karolin was listening. Minette talked about her interest in psychological safety beyond research and academia. Karoline resonated with it and wrote Minette an email with the reference, “Crazy Idea.”

They had a Zoom call and deliberated on working on something small that they would use on their clients. What they envisioned to be something small turned into a book. According to Minette, she has never understood how Karolin manages to do everything she does and manage to take care of her husband and four children. Karolin and Minette will meet for the first time in Portugal for the Search Inside Yourself Summit.

Minette and Karolin’s book, The Psychological Safety

When Minette and Karolin were putting their book together, they aimed to develop the most actionable and practical business book. Their book comprises plays and moves and is quite short in terms of word count. The two ladies aim to make psychological safety less serious so that more people can embrace it. 

The Essence of Vulnerability as a Leader

Minette’s company worked with a global team at some point. As a company culture, they would meet one-on-one as a team for their quarterly meeting. One time, Minette decided to engage a facilitator because she felt they were struggling to work together as a team. Everyone was working independently. The facilitator suggested they all be vulnerable and share something in their early years that made them who they are today. Minette shared her story, and she cried in front of her employees. A sense of empathy filled the room, and it created room for the employees to open up and they all got to know one another better. 

Influential Groups

Cultural dissonance is one thing that Minette had to learn early in her career. She believes she is like a sponge that keeps absorbing. Throughout her career, Minette looked at leaders and picked up all the good leadership traits and skills they had, and she was quick to point out the traits that she wouldn’t want to possess as a leader. The cultural dissonance shaped the leader she is today, and unlike many people who are after amassing wealth, Minette wants to do some good in the world and help people, for her it’s about leaving a mark in people’s hearts.

Conflict Resolution between Minette and Karolin

Minette and Karolin have not experienced any major disagreements because, from the onset, they took the time to understand each other’s weaknesses and strengths. Given their industry, it’s been easy for them to handle the small disagreements that arise in any collaborative project.

Soapbox Moment

Minette invites us to buy their book, The Psychological Safety Playbook. She also invites us to download the free resources on their website.


Minette Norman is one of two authors of the book The Psychological Safety Playbook: Lead more powerfully by being more human. Growing up, she developed her sense of empathy and powers of observation by being on the outside of many groups and again as an adult, being the only woman when she worked for high-level software companies. Her interest in human behaviour developed within the tech environment when she took on management roles and found she had an edge through her ability to respond safely and empathetically to others. Fast forward to her current work in inclusive leadership consulting. When taking an international course online, she developed a friendship and resonance with another leadership coach, Karolin Helbig, who pitched the idea that they develop a practical resource for their clients as a team. This became a book with a practical approach consisting of five “plays “and 25 behaviours to help people lead at work with safety and humanity no matter what their role and rank.


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