How to Build an Effective Circle of Safety

Cao Hữu Tín

Imagine being a general and building a fortress to prepare for the enemy’s siege. You need the best engineers, materials, and construction workers. Any flaw from those elements costs you a defeat. With the right construction, your structure is strong enough to withstand any blow dealt by enemies. While it’s not a physical structure, building a circle of safety within your company can lead to similar results.

A circle of safety means creating a learning culture within your company where teammates can explore, question, and expand their abilities without judgment.

However, creating a circle of safety is much easier said than done. Let’s explore three elements that can help make this atmosphere within your team. 


As a newcomer in the industry, you need to draw out plans, take action, and lead your employees. These abilities come from experience from previous jobs and personal life. However, assuming you know everything already could cut off your team from the circle of safety.

Instead, don’t be afraid to prioritize learning, both in yourself and others. As you lead by example, others will follow. 

Abilities can be learned and developed if you don’t feel equipped to solve an issue. One useful source is your entrepreneurial network. This like-minded community includes many informed entrepreneurs who advise effective methods to solve your problems. What’s more, your network may include specialists who know how to solve your specific issue. You should know how to build an entrepreneurial network and make sure that you join a club of talented people.

If your team sees you actively learning and evolving, they’ll feel safe to do the same. Creating a community that encourages growing strengthens the circle of safety, boosts engagement, and eliminates stagnation. 


If you are a startup, you don’t need to create a culture of pressure to get people on your team. Instead, one of the first priorities in cultivating a circle of safety should be building a supportive environment that encourages feedback. 

It is not a catchy slogan on your website or a vague promise at an elevator pitch. It’s shown in your actions. 

That means creating meetings and a general office environment where you call teammates in instead of calling them out. Encourage everyone to speak their minds and weigh in with input they see fit.

As folks begin to speak up, don’t stifle their passion by calling out their feedback. Instead, you should receive their critiques with respect and consideration because their ideas might help you break new ground. Furthermore, encouraging teammates to give opinions makes the working environment more comfortable, strengthening your circle of safety.

If you can create an office where people feel supported when they provide feedback or opinions, you’ll set your team up for a culture of growth and listening, instead of withdrawing and stagnation. 

Positive Thinking

A circle of safety needs a positive attitude. Without it, teammates may wonder if you really care about their concerns or trust them enough to assign important work. As a leader, keep the word WE or US in your mind, not I or ME—a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Just what do we mean by attitude? Encourage optimistic thinking. For example, the legendary comedian Jim Carrey once said about his dad:

“My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice.

In terms of this quote, does his father love comedy? Yes! Does he have abilities to be a comedian? Yes! But you know what? He decided to be an accountant and did not have a strong will to follow his passion.

It may sound idyllic, but a positive attitude can take you pretty far. Alternatively, you risk negative attitudes seeping into your team, which can drop retention and passion faster than you think. You don’t have to be endlessly positive, but presenting an upbeat attitude to your team can help them achieve more than they thought was ever possible. It helps enforce that system of support and vulnerability you’re trying to build. 

Feedback, learning, and attitude are the trinity to form a safety circle for you, your employees, and your entrepreneurial network. The Aspire360 team is always ready to help you strengthen three constituents with quality coaching and training for startup founders and CEOs.

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