It's no secret that managing and coaching those around us can feel futile if those being coached lack confidence in their ability to succeed. We've all witnessed talented people lose their spark and confidence, begin to wilt, and eventually begin to drop below performance standards.
A few nights ago, on "American Idol" (OK, I admitted I watch it.) Simon asked a contestant, "Do you think that you can win this?" Her answer, or lack thereof, proved that she clearly had serious doubts as to whether she could!
An expert on the subject of confidence explains:
"Confidence consists of positive expectations for favorable outcomes. Confidence influences the willingness to invest - to commit money, time, reputation, emotional energy, or other resources - or to withhold or hedge investment. This investment, or its absence, shapes the ability to perform. In that sense, confidence lies at the heart of civilization. Everything about an economy, a society, an organization, or a team depend on it. Every step we take, every investment we make, is based on whether we feel we can count on ourselves and others to accomplish what has been promised. Confidence determines whether our steps – individually or collectivity – are tiny and tentative or big and bold." (Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Confidence: Leadership and the Psychology of Turnarounds, 2004)
In light of this information, I predict that our American Idol contestant won't make it much further in the competition!
Recruiting people is only the first stage of an ongoing process. It's your job as a coach, manager, and/or mentor, to bring out the best in others, and that begins with assessing their confidence. They have to believe that they can succeed in order to succeed.
If they lack confidence, here are some things you can do:
1. Ask them: "Do you believe that you will succeed?" If they don't, or if they say yes in a tentative manner:
2. Then ask them what they believe the outcome will be if they don't really believe they can achieve their goals? (Even though my graduate courses were over 23 years ago, I can tell you that those who believed they'd finish and do well, did! Those who didn't have that confidence, failed!)
3. Once you have them talking about their uncertainty and its impact on their performance: Ask them to remember a time when they did succeed - big time! Get them to remember their attitude going into the situation. What was their level of confidence? Did they expect success?
5. And lastly, remind them that their best confidence comes when they aren't taking on important tasks and projects to bolster their ego, rather when they are doing it to contribute to clients, co-workers and society at large. Only under these conditions can one sustain great performance. Because when things don't go well, it's not about your ego, it's about your contribution!