Posted in leadership, team

Challenges Create Confidence


Winners make mistakes. Winners experience problems and must solve them. Winning streaks are punctuated by struggles which contain high and low points. Experiencing troubles is not all bad. Rather than interrupting the cycles of success, responding to adversity may accelerate it.

When losing makes people feel out of control, and when they give in to the temptations associated with defending against feeling powerless, the seeds of systemic pathologies are sown. Powerlessness undermines resilience. It eliminates the accountability, collaboration, and initiative winners use to solve problems and to get on with it. To resolve powerlessness, feeling out of control issues, consider some of the following ideas:

  1. Name the problem and clearly establish expectations
    1. Expect excellence, reward the same
    2. Contribute before decisions are made
    3. Support decisions once they are made
    4. Don’t make dumb mistakes
    5. Don’t punish smart mistakes
    6. Don’t make smart mistakes twice
    7. Never overpromise, always over deliver
    8. A promise made is a promise kept
  1. Find new leadership (is it time for a new team lead?)
    1. Leaders show the way
    2. Be open without humiliation
    3. Use data to empower
    4. Provide ground rules for team behavior
    5. Believe in people and their power to make a difference.
    6. Direct the energy tied up in negativity (resentment, rivalry, disrespect) into positive actions.
    7. Make initiative possible and desirable.
    8. Start with small wins; things that people can control.

Remember, leadership is plural. Leaders do not control everything that contributes to success. Thus it is important to have individual and system accountability:

  1. Foster straight talk.
  2. Make information transparent and accessible.
  3. Practice mutual respect, communication, and collaboration.
  4. Define joint goals and collective definitions of success
  5. Keep open channels for new ideas
  6. Treat people as experts in their own work
  7. Encourage small wins and grassroots innovations

As a leader, remember to dig deeper, to buckle down, to reach out, draw your employees closer, and seek support when you need it. Also remember that happy endings are just pauses in life’s action. Resilience to overcome adversity and working hard to solve problems will guarantee confidence for future successes.

CITE: Confidence: How winning streaks and losing streaks begin and end by Rosabeth Moss Kanter



Dr. Sheila Embry is a govie, author, pracademician, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend who loves to read, write, think, and laugh. Many of her blog postings are summaries or excerpts of books that she read and wants to share to encourage others. An author with more than 25 years experience within the legislative and executive branches of the U. S. federal government holding 3 accredited degrees: Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, Master of Arts in Human Resources Development, and Baccalaureate of Business Administration, she believes in continuing learning both on and off the job. She has been recognized with multiple professional and writing awards for her peer-reviewed, publications. Click the bibliography page above for a listing of all the publications.

2 thoughts on “Challenges Create Confidence

  1. I love this article! It’s a great reminder that adversity or a struggle is only a sign that you are growing! Thanks for the inspiration.

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