Teaching psychologically safe leadership at UNB

Posted on May 12, 2023 | Sponsored Content | 5 Comments



Leadership has never been easy, but it’s also never been harder than in these distracting and disruptive times. Fortunately, there is help for harried executives, thanks to UNB College of Extended Learning’s Psychologically Safe Leadership program (CPSL).

This 15-hour, three-course certificate program enables corporate leaders in public, private and community organizations to create a trusting environment that prioritizes the well-being of employees, and fosters respect, trust, empathy and support at all levels.

“Nowadays, so many companies are dealing with a heightened level of mental health harms in the workplace,” says Kelly O’Brien, Associate Executive Director of UNB’s College of Extended Learning. “They’re seeking timely, purpose-driven training that addresses this critical issue in a way that both protects staff and keeps them on track with their overall organizational targets. That’s where our CPSL comes in.”

Offered by Dr. Bill Howatt (a renowned expert in workplace mental health, and a former chief of research for the Conference Board of Canada, who has authored 40 books and more than 400 articles on the subject), CPSL explores the key skills necessary to be psychologically safe and to support the total wellbeing of employees.

In the first course, Psychologically Safe Workplaces, learners identify and understand the elements of a psychologically safe workplace and its link to overall performance in organizations. They review mental harms and risks, and how their leadership can positively or negatively impact the employee experience.

In the second, Becoming a Psychologically Safe Leader, learners complete a number of assessments designed to strengthen the interpersonal skills and behaviours of psychologically safe leadership. Developing personal action plans helps them identify their mental health needs and how to show up each day for their teams.


Kelly O’Brien, Associate Executive Director, UNB College of Extended Learning


In the third, Promoting a Psychologically Safe Workplace, learners learn how to share their experience, thoughts, and ideas without fear of reprisal or retaliatory action. They also learn how the psychologically safe leader both encourages a culture that reduces mental risks and harms and drives organizational performance.

O’Brien says the online, self-paced program, requiring a commitment of roughly five hours per course, is specifically designed for busy professionals.

“Our mission is to craft innovative, transformative programming designed for working people who require balance. That means delivering high quality learning opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds—programming that’s relevant, particularly in Occupational Health and Safety, Wellness, Leadership, and Management.”

In fact, research shows that 60 per cent of Canadian employees experience stress every day at work and that 500,000 miss work each week due to mental illness.

“We are facing a mental health crisis that is driving reduced engagement, increased mental-health related leaves, and a spike in related costs,” O’Brien says. “We have also seen a shift in business practice and complexion. The old practices are no longer appropriate for workers in a new generation, who require flexibility, work-life balance, and lots of opportunity to grow professionally.”

For these reasons, O’Brien says, CPSL is not only avail-able on demand, it’s specifically priced to be budget friendly for organizations needing to train groups of leaders, and emerging leaders. “We believe firmly in the advancement of psychologically safe workspaces led by trained leaders.”

Since 2002, UNB College of Extended Learning has offered professional development to adult learners that leads to personal and organizational growth and development, and contributes to the social, cultural, and economic development needs of Atlantic Canadians, and beyond.

Since its launch in 2021, CPSL has won rave reviews from those who’ve taken it. “We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Students enjoy the video lectures, the assessments, and the sense of empowerment that they feel on completion,” O’Brien says.

“We recognize the importance of lifelong learning, and of innovation in helping to ensure that businesses in Atlantic Canada, and beyond, have access to top-tier options for developing themselves and their teams.”


5 responses to “Teaching psychologically safe leadership at UNB”

  1. I currently undergo few safety phycological courses with certificates. Can you maybe assist me with what I have obtain versus this certificate. Like to advance my knowledge on safety phycology.

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