The importance of building peoples’ confidence

When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is;
when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be,
we make him what he should be.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When you believe you’ll succeed at something, you’ll put in a lot more effort than when you don’t expect to succeed. That’s logical and it’s common sense. It also explains why optimists often perform better than equally talented pessimists and why optimists are more prepared to get out of their comfort zones and try new ways of working, practice new skills they’ve learned and so on—thereby further increasing their chances of success.

As a manager, it makes sense to build your work team’s optimism, or belief in their ability to succeed, because people try harder when they feel confident. Similarly, it makes sense to build a direct report’s confidence in their abilities when you delegate a task or teach a new skill. It even makes sense to build your manager’s confidence in your and your team’s abilities because that makes your manager more likely to support your efforts.

Discussion questions

How effectively do you build peoples’ optimism and confidence in themselves and their team? What other ways do you help people reach their potential?