Can Confidence be Transferred onto others less experienced?
The essence of good leadership is transferring confidence onto others and injecting it throughout the organization. The cultural tone starts at the top. This will never change.
Leaders give their people the guidance, confidence and tools to help them do their jobs and then they get out of the way so that they can grow and flourish and make mistakes and learn on their own. Good, solid leadership doesn’t suffocate people like a micromanager, always in peoples’ faces, always in their grill, always thinking their constant tinkering is a good thing. Good leadership says, “Here’s where we’re going. Here’s the direction. Here’s the strategy. You figure out how best to get there. I’ll be here to support you and help you and give you tools to be successful.”
Great leadership is confidence transfer. This transcends context. It could be political, it could be private or public sector, it could be a military context, and it doesn’t matter: great leaders transfer confidence onto others and work with them and encourage them and support them until they see it for themselves.
It all starts with a healthy organizational culture.
Leaders are where they are for several reasons: emotional strength and maturity; experience; education; self-confidence; confidence in team; a proven willingness to help and grow others; a proven track record; and the ability to get stuff done through others. These are all skills any organization would love to have and grow within it. And it all starts with a healthy organizational culture.
Your organizational culture consists of the behaviors and processes and systems and language people within your firm use and agree upon either explicitly or implicitly. It isn’t all written out in the employee handbook. And it is rarely discussed in new employee HR orientation.
Organizational culture is what people are talking about when they use the euphemism, learning the ropes. Or, in the case of the more experienced person helping the new guy, showing the ropes. There’s lots to learn when you start a new job within a new company. Each company does things in different ways despite being in the same industry, and thus, each company enjoys different levels of success and prestige. Some firms are all about process and procedure, making sure all forms are properly filled out, and making sure the TPS reports are written and emailed by 2 PM each Friday. Other firms are less structured, don’t much believe in forms, and possess looser systems and ways to get things done.
Each of these firms will have different organizational cultures. They have to because a top-down, this-is-the-way-we-do-things-around-here culture would not tolerate frayed systems and processes at the bottom. The same is true for its opposite: a feel-free-to-come-in-whenever-you-want-and-just-relax-and-get-your-work-done-and-then-you-can-go-home organizational culture wouldn’t stand for tight, top-down processes and procedures and systems and a bunch of managers telling everyone else what to do. They’d view that as heretical and against everything that the company stands for.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
— Peter Drucker
We cannot remind leaders enough: culture eats strategy for breakfast. (God bless Peter Drucker for writing that down and telling anyone who will listen.) You can have what you believe is an air-tight business strategy for the firm going forward. You may even be right. You may have the board’s support. You may even be a visionary. But if your organizational culture won’t be able to support or move in the direction of the new strategy, forget about it. Scuttle the launch.
While strategy guides behavior, culture consists of sets of strategies and behaviors and emotions and feelings and historical precedents. Organizational culture is the New England Patriots and strategy is the Cleveland Browns. When the two play one another, all NFL fans know what happens. You don’t even need to watch the game, and it doesn’t matter where it is played. This is how little chance strategy has when it hits a culture not ready or unwilling to move for it.
Great change doesn’t start with strategy — it starts with culture.
In order to get people to change or to move in a new direction, you cannot simply tell them to move or change. You will encounter active resistance, wailing, gnashing of teeth, throwing various objects, crying, hanging onto the past or present or status quo with both hands, and passive-aggressive behavior. You must get their buy-in first. Without their buy-in, your well-designed strategy is SOL. They’re not moving. And they’ll tell you that to your face. When people get used to the way things are and have been done for years, they are not wont to change.
Change is like a cold to us — we’ll do anything to avoid its infection.
Change is like a cold to us. We’ll do anything to avoid its infection, including taking active measures to ensure it doesn’t happen to us. We seek inoculation in the form of citing historical precedent, throwing weight around even if we don’t have it, and saying we’ll change but then going about our business the way we’ve always done it.
Never forget that we are creatures of habit, both personally and professionally. We don’t like wrenches thrown into our routines, ways and means. We like the way things are even if we complain about them all the time. Just because people complain about the times doesn’t mean they want to see them change. That’s scary and different, and requires them to change themselves.
IN order for true change to occur, people have to believe in themselves that they can change along with the times and have it stick. They have to believe they are capable of adapting, capable of improving and capable of overcoming. They have to have the confidence in their ability to figure things out no matter what. And this is where leadership comes in.
As stated at the beginning of this piece, great leaders transfer and inject confidence into people who cannot see it or feel it within themselves. It is like they blow fresh psychological air into peoples’ minds and lungs, improving their thinking, their breathing, and their spirit. Sure, leaders like to have people believe in them, but they’re far more concerned about getting people to believe in themselves and their capabilities and their capacities for change. Because that’s what great leadership is all about.