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Main Street: May 8, 2019

May 9, 2019

Recently, I was discussing an interesting concept of self-efficacy with my good friend, Dr. Ryan Longnecker, of Trevecca Nazarene University, and its impact on professional leadership. For years, I have been a proponent of self-efficacy, which loosely translates in your belief in your own abilities to deal with various situations and can play a role not only how you feel about yourself, but whether you can successfully achieve goals in your life.

Given the need for achievement in today’s ultra-competitive global economy, and doing more with less in the organization, it’s incumbent to believe in yourself and to utilize a form of logical thinking through the feeling of confidence. Reflecting on your past accomplishments, coupled with the ability to navigate the never-ending change in the organizational environment, drives successful leaders to have a high degree of self-efficacy.

Driving this point to the next level, an interesting article was written by Herb Stevenson titled, “The Role of Self-Efficacy, Confidence & Resilience Plays in Leadership.” I will highlight Stevenson’s salient points and then comment in parentheses on how to add to your leadership domain.

1. Self-efficacy is the cornerstone of leadership: (Leaders can be great problem solvers, communicators, mentors, and coaches, but unless they have self-efficacy and believe in themselves, they will ultimately fail. Confidence like emotions are contagious, so be proactive in distilling confidence in your abilities to your team members.)

2. The role of self-efficacy in the organization: Psychologist Albert Bandura of Stanford University said, “Virtually all people can identify goals they want to accomplish, things they would like to change, and things they would like to achieve. However, most people also realize that putting these plans into action is not quite so simple. Bandura and others have found that an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, challenges, including crisis, failed projects, and scandals are approached.” (Central to self-efficacy is the ability to promote your buoyancy and instill a contagious spirit of confidence by leading by example in trying and chaotic times.)

3. Strong sense of self-efficacy: A strong sense of efficacy enhances personal accomplishments in many ways. People with high efficacy approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.

These leaders view challenging problems as tasks to be mastered; develop a deeper interest in the activities in which they participate, form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities, and recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments. (Consequently, leaders engaging and possessing a strong sense of self-efficacy, approach threatening situations with an assurance that they can exercise control over them. Such an efficacious outlook produces personal accomplishments, reduces stress, and lowers vulnerability to depression according to Stevenson.)

4. Sources of self-efficacy: (Leader’s who possess high-levels of self-efficacy find their power through their mastery of experiences; social modeling; social persuasion; and psychological responses. In other words, the totality of their experiences is coalesced into crucible and learning methods to distill confidence in their beliefs for achievement. The leader’s confidence in their abilities not only enhance their own efficacy but translates confidence and achievement to their team members as well.)

The culmination of self-efficacy has far-reaching consequences for team members in the organization. As described above, and as further illustrated by Stevenson, who said, “People like to work with leaders whose self-efficacy reveals that they are truly confident in who they are and how they approach life. There is a natural tendency to trust people more when they appear confident in who they are and how they interact with the various daily challenges.

“For most of us, dealing with an authentically confident person helps assure us that the person is also competent. Generally, when a leader embodies strong self-efficacy, and further exhibits confidence, it makes it easier to trust that leader, and people want to work with leaders they trust.”

Finally, as illuminated by Mahatma Gandhi, he stated, “If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

Clearly, self-efficacy centers on our beliefs that we can accomplish any task, and thereby, increase our confidence to navigate the turbulent waters coming our way.