Book Review: Confidence

Sports and business, for the most part, don’t mix well in my values. They are very different entities and to use analogies comparing one to the other is fraught with risk. Yet, my fascination with the NFL is largely built around what turns a team around from losing to winning and then sustaining the wins over years.

In terms of trying to equate business to sports, take the simplest difference between sports and business: sports has an off-season, business does not. Yes, work is done during the off-season, but what counts are the games during the season. In business, everything counts all the time.

When I started reading Confidence: How winning streaks and losing streaks begin and end, by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, I was hoping I wasn’t going to get a rah-rah sports to business analogy that just doesn’t make sense in the real world.

Fortunately, that wasn’t what the book was about. Instead, I got the best team-building book I’ve ever read.

While one can interpret the book as what leaders do to build a team, a perfectly acceptable interpretation, the work holds great insights about teams for people who work in cubes.

The four levels of confidence:

  1. Self-confidence: an emotional climate of high expectations. Success (on a team) makes it easier to view events in a positive light, to generate optimism.
  2. Confidence in one another: positive, supportive, team-oriented behavior. (Success) makes people feel more engaged with their tasks and with one another.
  3. Confidence in the system: organizational structures and routines reinforcing accountability, collaboration, and innovation. (Success) makes it likely to turn informal tendencies into formal traditions by building winners’ habits of responsibility, teamwork, and initiative into routines, processes, and practices that encourage and perpetuate them.
  4. External confidence: a network to provide resources. (Success) makes it easier to attract financial backers, loyal customers, enthusiastic fans, talented recruits, media attention, opinion leader support, and political goodwill. Continuing to win stimulates this network to grow in size, scope, and magnitude of investment.

The book makes the case that each of these levels of confidence, starting with self-confidence, build and sustain winning teams. The author then goes on to show how each of these confidence builders can be applied to your team at work.

What this book shows is how to build adaptive change into an organization using these principles of confidence.

The reason this book is important for knowledge workers is that it shows a high-performing work environment for your job. By understanding the dynamics of what it takes to build these confidence levels, you can ask questions in the job interview that will tell you the culture you are choosing for your work.

Cube Rules Rating: 5 of 5 cubes

This is a must read book for knowledge workers to understand the type of team they are working with today and what can be done to improve the dynamics of the work place. Perfectly readable and understandable, Confidence will help you develop your winning streak in your career.

  • […] coworkers. Personal branding that provides quality work. Personal branding that results in your coworkers can counting on you to do your part to get to success. Personal branding where you raise practical issues so that your team’s solutions get better […]

  • The book seems interesting. I just realize how important it is to have confidence with each other if you are in a team. It helps a person gain confidence if his companion or team mates have confidence in him too. With good self-confidence, a person is more likely to succeed in his work or in his dreams and goals in life.

    • @Stella – What was so interesting to me was this was the first book that carried through how to achieve the confidence and what happens to tear it down.

      I think everyone knows that having confidence, whether in your self or your team, is important to success. This book tells you how to get it.

  • It was interesting to see the 4 levels of confidence.
    Building your own self confidence and developing collective confidence are both essential for your and your company’s success.

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