January 9, 2014

Select a Worthy Objective - Become Confident First - Motivated Next - Put in the Effort - Reap the Success

What are your objectives and plans for the future? The objectives can be ranked in the order of worthiness. They can also be ranked in the order your confidence regarding achieving them. What is confidence? Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor of Harvard Business School explains confidence as an expectation of positive outcome based on your resources and abilities. Even though confidence is based your resources and abilities, it is not a personality trait which means you are always confident or diffident..Confidence for each objective is based on an assessment of the situation or the environment. So confidence is an assessment whether the environment is sufficiently fertile for your effort to give you the success with the resources and abilities that you have. If you assessment makes you confident of success,  that will  spark motivation.

What is motivation. Motivation is an internal urge or force that make you put in the effort, to invest your time and resources, and to persist in sticking to the plan till the last minute in case of competitive events. In case of non competitive activities a confident man will persist till he reaches the goal. An example of non-competitive activity is learning a skill like car driving.  It is not confidence or positive thinking itself that produces success; it is the investment of resources and the effort. But if  enough confidence is not there, it’s too easy to give up prematurely or not get started at all. Hopelessness and despair prevent action from taking place or even though action starts, it will not be done properly with enthusiasm.

Rosabeth Kanter identified certain barriers to confidence building. Individuals and team leaders have to consider them and eliminate or minimize these barriers to go on and achieve their objectives.

Barriers to Confidence Development. These barriers may appear at the starting of an activity or during the course of an activity.

Self-defeating assumptions.
Goals that are too big or too distant.
Declaring victory too soon.
Blaming someone else.
Neglecting to anticipate setbacks.

Self-defeating assumptions.
 If you start with a list of weak points and then highlight them in doing your analysis, the likely conclusion will dampen your confidence. It is important to write strong points that will give success first.

Goals that are too big or too distant.
The goals that look feasible with a focused effort and available resources and result in quick successes will build confidence. The goals that are remote and very big will not inspire the same confidence. That is why many times, social organizations are small dedicated teams when they are highlighting big and distant goals, but whenever a short term feasible goal appears, their following increases many times. After that goal is reached once again the popular enthusiasm subsides and the team becomes small. But the dedicated team is essential for the long time survival of an organization.

Declaring victory too soon
Small successes are important but don't declare victory till the real victory is achieved. Celebrate small successes, but inform the audience the further steps needed for complete victory and explain the plan in the context of the success being celebrated.

Do-it-yourself-ing or Promoting stars and Belittling many
In a team activity, don't get into the act of doing and winning all by yourself. No team game is won by a single person. Even though some games are won by the superb performance of an individual, the general confidence of the team is low. It is important to train the team members to be a high performance team. Creating a culture in which everyone is more likely to succeed, through recognizing their strengths and further mentoring them to use those strengths in the anticipated challenges is important. Giving recognition and support  to others boosts happiness and self-esteem. Numerous research studies support this hypothesis.A supportive environment makes it easier for teams to succeed in very challenging situations. In industry, Toyota successfully developed a supportive environment where neighbors support each other in meeting quantity as well as quality targets.

Blaming someone else
Failures are inevitable events in any project. An organization which takes failure as a defective output and looks inwards to take corrective actions will develop confidence. An organization whose leaders do not take responsibility for the failure and look inwards but blame others will lose confidence.

Defensiveness is starting a project with an apology. Who asked you for it? Start any project clearly explaining the worth of it. Start a project based on cost-benefit analysis. Only when critics emerge, you can answer and bring out limitations under which you preferred the project.

Neglecting to anticipate setbacks
Do scenario planning with your team. Give opportunity to team members to point out what can go wrong. Then outline your contingency planning. Keep contingency resources and inform the team about it. Whenever some setbacks are anticipated and planned, the actual happening of the setback will not demoralise the team but makes them put extra effort to tide over the setback.

Overconfidence is described as arrogance by Prof Kanter. When the team management becomes arrogant, it neglects its team members. When a business team becomes arrogant it neglects its customers. The early signs of failure are ignored and the corrective action is not taken in time. What gives success?

Remember, it is not confidence. It is your work. Overconfidence kills your motive to work. Confidence provides motive to work and succeed.

Hear the Athletic Director and head coach of the Varsity Soccer team at Ryerson University, Dr. Ivan Joseph stating some of the above points in his talk on being confident and becoming confident


Read the blog post of Prof Rosabeth Kanter in Harvard Blogs.

Presently in India Lok Sabha Elections are due in May 2014.

Confidence is the key to the effort put in by party leaders and workers. Why?

See this theoretical proposition.
In an election year that favors one party, that party campaigns heavily in opponents’ districts that are closest to swinging toward the favored party.

India 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. Which party worker can be more confident?


Success in Delhi Elections. Came Second. But formed the government.
Many reputed persons new to politics are joining the party.
Some members including former MPs and MLAs are joining the party.
Lakhs of young people are joining.
For Delhi, they could collect the target campaign fund of Rs. 20 Cr.
For Lok Sabha their target is one crore (10 million) for lok sabha seat.

Stupendous success in two state assemblies.
Success in one more assembly.
Their PM nominee Narendra Modi is still the preferred number one choice in the country (TOI opinion poll results 8 Jan 2014)
Success of their mega rallies.
Announcement of 272+ mission
More allies willing to come on board
Even foreign media declaring the likely success of the party in elections to come to power.

Has 12 state governments.
Has the ability to campaign across the country.
Twice it came back to power at the centre after big defeats.
Money is not a problem for election campaigning.

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