Tag Archives: confidence

A Question of Confidence

“Why do you think your team is underperforming?” I asked. “I’m not sure,” Rory replied. “Well, let’s start with what you see,” I nodded. “If you stand back and just observe, what do you see?  What do you hear?” “Okay, if I just report what I see, the team second-guesses itself. They know the goal. They each stand around watching and waiting for someone to make the first move. Somebody eventually does. Then, there is the big question – Are you sure?  Asked in that way, everyone stops.” “Without direction, isn’t it prudent to ask that question?” I wanted to know. “Yes, but it’s not a question of clarification, it’s a question of confidence,”  Rory explained.  “Every member of the team is looking for the down side, to protect themselves, protect the team.” “Protect the team from what?” I probed. “Protect the team from failure, I guess.  I am a pretty easy going manager, so I know people are going to make mistakes, but, even still, when there is a setback, they can tell I get a little testy.” “It’s a natural reaction.  When we touch a hot stove, it’s a good idea not to linger.”  I squinted to look inside Rory’s eyes.  “Getting testy comes with the territory.  It’s a gut reaction to let us know something is wrong. The question is what do you do about it?” “What do you mean?” Rory asked. “Do you let the team wallow in ambiguity, wondering what you will do with your disappointment?  Or do you circle the wagons and work your way out?” “My question is the same,” Rory said.  “What do you mean?” “The team came up with one way to proceed, but didn’t have confidence in the direction.  You and I both know there are at least a half dozen different ways to get the job done, any of which will work just fine.  The team is afraid they will pick the wrong one.  This is not a matter of methodology.  This is a question of confidence, confidence to explore, confidence to debate, confidence to disagree, then agree and commit.  The question is what do you, as the leader, do about it?”