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Confidence presents the new theory and practice of success, and explains why success and failure are not mere episodes but self-perpetuating trajectories.
Winners and Losers
After one of the highest-performing decades in its 100-year history, Gillette slipped badly in the mid-1990s, Kanter explains. Poor business practices and overpromising to Wall Street resulted in 15 quarters of missed earnings estimates before a new leader turned the company around and restored accountability. Gillette once had confidence, then lost it, then got it back.
People, groups and companies can get swept up in fortunate and unfortunate cycles of wins and losses. Confidence is often what causes these swings to rise and fall. Kanter writes that confidence is the bridge between expectations and performance; between investments and results.
Positive cycles or winning streaks create positive momentum and increase confidence. People who believe they will win are more likely to put in the effort to ensure victory, Kanter writes. Their halo effect makes it easier to attract the best talent and the investments to perpetuate victory. Losing cycles also feed on themselves, destroying confidence along the way. Losing has a repellent effect that makes it harder for a team to bond and to attract new talent, and easier to fall behind.
Arrogance and Despair
Kanter explains that confidence is the balance between arrogance — the failure to see any flaws — and despair. It is human nature to seek patterns and trends even in random events. But in nonrandom activities, where effort and skill make a difference, success and failure become self-fulfilling prophesies.
Failure and success are trajectories, directions and pathways. Each decision and action is shaped by what happened last time. Once set in motion, streaks harden, and to turn a cycle from decline to success, leaders must restore confidence in the system. In business as in sports, Kanter writes, winning on the playing field is heavily influenced by what happens off the field.
Winners and Losers
People who believe in themselves are likely to try harder and longer, increasing their chances of success. They believe that their efforts will pay off in the future. Kanter points out that these expectations translate into an investment of resources that improve performance in a mini-virtuous cycle. Leaders look more closely, invest more time, and give winners the benefit of the doubt.
Winning is contagious, and leaders can set an emotional tone and shape expectations that produce initial wins. People naturally gravitate toward behaving in ways that support confidence. Kanter explains that accountability, collaboration and initiative are central to confidence, and they occur when winners work together comfortably.
On the other hand, Kanter writes, losing streaks are escalating cycles of decline that erode confidence. Losing makes people feel out of control, and they give in to the temptations associated with defeat. Their powerlessness corrupts confidence, and then it gets weak.
Kanter explains that there are three situations that trigger turnarounds: Some organizations are terminally ill; some turnarounds begin when a loss of external confidence finally compels change; and some turnarounds are simply an unanticipated byproduct of normal life events, such as succession. While each turnaround is different, she writes, they all start with the need to make unpopular decisions about a situation that's full ugliness has been denied. It's hard for that kind of clarity to come from inside the organization, she argues, so new leaders are required because they are better able to disentangle system dynamics in which they are not caught up. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
“Confidence . . . makes the compelling argument that the people who succeed are the people who expect to succeed.” —Elle
“A successful book on leadership that illuminates the underlying principles applicable to teams and small businesses as well as schools, corporations, and countries.” —Washington Post
“Well-researched and engaging. . . . Kanter is a witty and entertaining writer.” —Miami Herald
“Finally, there’s a powerful book that digs out the truth about winners in every walk of life.” —David Gergen, editor at large, U.S. News and World Report, and presidential counselor
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Posted January 29, 2010
This book is a must read for anyone who is attempting to get an organization out of a losing streak...I have turned around 2-3 businesses by focusing on accountability (performance management), teamwork (see team exercises, i.e. kaizen), and innovation (internal and external)...pretty powerful stuff!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 6, 2006
Why do winning streaks and losing streaks continue in sports, business, politics, education and even in individual personal lives? The answer, according to Harvard University business administration professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, is 'not in our stars, but in ourselves.' Winners have, and losers lack, a distinct, learnable, positive attitude toward the future, which Kanter boldly sums up in a word: confidence. Drawing on more than 300 interviews with top coaches, business people and other leaders, and using data from two surveys of more than 1,200 companies, Kanter illustrates the keys to confidence with case studies of various organizations, especially some win-from-behind sports teams. While many pearls are hidden at the bottom of her text, be prepared to dive through a murky sea of verbiage to find them. Nevertheless, we recommend it confidently to those who want a (mostly) painless refresher on managerial basics, especially morale building.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2005
I found this book to be overly repetitive. The book, while it does try to espouse worthy principles of leadership, could have been written with the same effect in 100 pages or less and not wasted the readers time. Furthermore, there is one passage from the book located on page 319 on former New York mayor Rudolph Guliani's performance during 9/11 that I found extremely alarming. It reads as follows: 'Guliani became and remained a hero because of a single episode, but turnarounds require more than immediate crisis-management skills. No controversy dogged Guiliani because his actions provoked no challenges, required no tough choices, and were completed shortly after the crisis event, when he left office. He sent no troops into battle, solved no problems, developed no policies, seeded no innovations. New York City's disaster relief response was effective because teams had already prepared and could spring into action, freeing him to be their cheerleader-in-chief'. Calling Guiliani simply a cheerleader-in-chief, and furthermore saying that he didn't have to make any tough choices and did not solve any problems while leading New York City through one of the worst disasters this country has ever seen proves just how blind Rosabeth Moss Kanter is to real leadership in action. Save your money and your time, there are much better books out there.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2004
There are many leadership books about what the job of leaders is, and there are some excellent books about how optimistic people accomplish more. Confidence is the first book that I have seen that combines both perspectives in to a description of leadership basics to use confidence to accomplish more. The most valuable part of the book is in how to build confidence in a turnaround situation, another subject about which many good books have been written. The book's main strength is found in its many compelling stories of how sports, business, non-profit and government organizations have gotten caught up in vicious cycles of losing confidence, broken those cycles and build virtuous cycles of building confidence and effectiveness. These stories are not only interesting; they are balanced for gender and race as well. You come away with a sense that the book's principles are more than adequately established across a broad range of experiences and backgrounds. I especially enjoyed the rich details behind the headlines of many of these famous stories. In each case, I gained from adding details that I didn't know before even though I was aware of most of the organizational stores involved (I even know some of the people). Those who get lost in the details will be pleased to discover that Professor Kanter summarizes her findings, with references back to the most telling examples in the brief Part III. Leaders help create confidence by setting high standards, being a role model for those standards, and establishing processes to get the job done. The cornerstones of confidence that leaders should use include individual and system accountability, mutual respect, communication, collaboration, initiative, imagination and innovation. In doing these tasks, leaders need to address building confidence among those outside of the organization as well as those inside it. Whenever you find yourself losing your way, stop thinking about what's going wrong and focus on what you must do to ensure that things will go right in the future. This book will be most welcome to those whose organizations are mired down into stalled behavior of attitudes and bad habits that delay progress. With Confidence, they can see what they need to do next to move forward at the right pace and in the right way. Get going! What are you waiting for?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2004
SHE GETS TO THE ROOT OF WHAT YOU NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL.READ THIS BOOK AND PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN AND FORGE AHEAD.YOU WILL BE UNSTOPPABLE!A GOOD COMPANION TO OPTIMAL THINKING AND SECOND ACTSWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 27, 2010
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Posted March 7, 2011
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Posted July 23, 2011
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