Provocative Propositions

In the hyperactive and challenging world in which we all live, it is becoming harder and harder for business leaders to find time to read, reflect and gain insight from the many valuable sources at our disposal.

In "Provocative Propositions", The Beacon Group attempts to fill that void by offering our opinion, often rather pointed, on a wide array of issues we believe are relevant to leading a modern organization.

The articles are catalogued into 12 categories so you can quickly and easily find a topic of particular interest. We then offer three easy steps under the heading "In Our Opinion" to help business leaders take action on the key themes.

Simply click on the category and read away.

Confidence in Organizations
For many of us, one story from our childhood stands the test of time in our memories. We may forget stories of bears or castles or animals. None of us forget the little engine that could.

"I think I can, I think I can."

This essence of perseverance sticks with us throughout out lives. Overcoming setbacks, clawing our way up through adversity. We think we can, we think we can.

Once we reach the top, the mantra changes to - "I know I can."

This level of confidence is one crucial element that must be in play in order to ensure an organization's future success. The role of the leader must ultimately be to help instil a sense of confidence in their organization.

Author of the book titled "Confidence", Rosabeth Moss Kanter, former Editor of The Harvard Business Review, and currently a Harvard Professor claims that:

"Confidence helps people take control of circumstances rather than be dragged along by them." Confidence is a self-propagating mixture of accountability, collaboration, and initiative.

Confidence accomplishes what renowned author Edward Deming stressed for years - confidence drives out fear.

Do you have the confidence to pull this off?

Winning and Losing

Confidence is based on a cumulative set of events. As a leader, the focus of your effort should be to look at the "wins" and the "losses" in a historical context. Many times, leaders focus on the next win only and, while this is important, they must also consider their team's overall track record - especially in crucial games.

The ultimate and most important goal is to develop a series of wins. To be able to create serial success. This "winning streak" mentality is what ultimately translates into higher confidence for the team which, in turn, helps "psyche" them up for the next event. The resulting confidence not only enhances your team's self-starting ability and sense of empowerment, but also allows you to look further out into the future for even more challenging goals for the team.

In the same way, when your team is in the midst of a losing streak, your focus must be on analyzing missed opportunities, and developing a strategy to keep them from happening again.

Remember that momentum can shift either way with respect to confidence. In sports and in business, winning teams have temporary setbacks to be sure, but they are able to keep the overall momentum moving in the right direction because they have an ability to recall the taste of confidence.

Benefits of Winning Streaks

Confidence is self-propagating. It is contagious. Once an organization gets it right, there can be several benefits that ultimately lead to enhanced levels of confidence, including:

- an emotional climate of high expectations

- positive, supportive, team-oriented behaviour

- organizational structures and routines reinforcing accountability, collaboration and innovation

- a network to provide supportive resources

The cycle goes on and on. Winning builds confidence and this confidence builds more winning.

Beware of Arrogance

In the case of confidence, leaders must, at all times, beware of overconfidence. Moss Kanter puts its well when she states that "confidence is the sweet spot between arrogance and despair."

Your team must be kept in check. Arrogance is the downfall of a confident organization. Arrogance tends to instil a god complex in the "mind" of the organization, and the organization may fall victim to believing it can do no wrong. Arrogance also drives - complacency. As a leader, you must constantly remind your team of the hard work, discipline and focus it took to get them to this point, as well as the amount that will be required to maintain their upward trajectory.

Quitting on the Coach

Although, ultimately, confidence is an intrinsic motivator in each member of the organization, there can be instances where the leader loses touch with their team. In hockey, a coach may pull the goalie after they let in a series of goals. This is done not to punish the goalie, rather to send a message to the team that they have let the goalie down. In another analogy, sports teams that lose respect for the coach for one reason or another "quit on the coach." They do this to send the coach a message that something must be done to restore the relationship.

Therefore, when youíre assessing your team's recent negative track record, take note of the fact that they may have underperformed to send you a message. If this sounds cruel and unusual, the reality is that itís part of the role of a leader.

Leaders Connect

Organizations that can capitalize on their winning streaks also find themselves in a position where they attract better talent. In his book The One Thing You Need to Know, author Marcus Buckingham states that to be effective, leaders must create winning conditions for their team, but also understand the individual strengths of each team member, and place them in a role that plays to these strengths.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter agrees. Her belief is that effective leaders are "connectors". First they have the ability to connect tasks to people, and then they connect these people to each other. This builds a common understanding of what is to be accomplished, and what everyone's role in the accomplishment is to be.

In Our Opinion

The Beacon Groupís Keys to Instilling Confidence in an Organization

Give Pep-talks - Whenever you can, gather the whole team together, remind them of their hard work, commitment, and dedication, and what itís brought them to date. Build the excitement to perform, and they will.

Pat helmets - Personal recognition for individual performance is crucial to remind everyone that their own piece of the overall accomplishment is important. It doesnít cost anything, but the pride and confidence it builds is priceless.

Shout from the sidelines - When something great happens "on the field" be loud. Draw attention to the event so everyone can share in the enthusiasm. When a mistake happens, use your voice again to encourage a better performance next time.

Refocus the team - At the end of the "game", after the celebratory speech, be sure to let the team know that there is another game in the future, and they must assess their performance to date and devise a plan to build upon their current talent.
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