We rarely speak of the importance of confidence, at least not as it pertains to organizations. That’s unfortunate. An organization with confidence works more efficiently, more effectively, and with less stress. Plus, the journey’s all that much better for everyone!
First, what do we mean by organizational confidence? Organizational confidence occurs when everyone inside and out of the organization knows it is on the right path, that the work is essential, and no one else can do it as well as they can.
Confidence is not a blind belief in an unfounded proclamation or trust in a charismatic leader. Instead, confidence within an organization comes from a sharp focus on the organization’s value that is then eloquently and easily explained.
Here’s a look at why confidence is important, when it’s needed, and where it shows up.
Why it’s important
- Time-Saving. First, confidence within an organization saves time. Internally, when everyone is aligned to a strategy, questions focus on “How do we best execute it?” not “Are we sure this is what we should be doing?” Externally, it makes engagements, such as financial support or purchases, happen more quickly. Before investing any of our money, we all want some level of assurance—of confidence—that it will be put to good use.
- Reduces Stress. Similarly, confidence in your organization (either the one for which you work or the one you support) makes every interaction so much less stressful. Think about driving. What is your stress level when you know exactly where you are going compared to when you’re well out of your element? The same holds true for how people work and make decisions.
- Delivers better outcomes. Confident organizations also achieve better outcomes. For one, they have more clearly defined expectations for those outcomes, making them easier to reach. Also, confidence breeds focus, and focus improves performance. Organizations without confidence may as well be driving around a strange neighborhood while texting.
When it’s needed
Confidence comes into play almost everywhere and is just as crucial for the entry-level person who opens the mail to the most senior executives. (Mail’s still a thing, right?) There are four areas, in particular, where’s its impact is profoundly relevant.
- Decision making. As noted, a debate is healthy, but only when it’s focused on the process, not the outcomes. Using the driving analogy, when you know where you’re going, it’s easier to decide which turn is the right one for you.
- Facing unexpected challenges. When new challenges arise—like, oh, maybe a global pandemic?—having a sense of “we’ve got this” is an incredible asset. Organizations with high levels of confidence are far less intimidated facing the unknown.
- New initiatives. Similarly, confident organizations know how to approach a new initiative with clarity of purpose, enthusiasm, and decisiveness. Organizations without confidence often approach new initiatives sheepishly, sometimes even apologetically.
- Selling/asking. Along the same lines, which capital campaign would you rather support? “This campaign will ensure needs are met for years to come” or “We hope this campaign will support us for the near future.”
Where it shows up
Confidence comes to life in practically every area of your organization, starting with leadership. (That is, of course, why it’s called leader-ship.) When senior managers have and exude confidence, it spreads like smiles to employees, supporters, and clients. Other common places include:
- Meetings. Are they focused, productive, and enjoyed (i.e., confident)? Or, are they contentious, distracted, or tolerated (i.e., not confident)?
- Employee engagement. If meeting malaise filters out of the conference room and into the hallways, your organization has a confidence problem. Annual employee surveys can provide clear indications of how confident they do or do not feel about your organization.
- Attitudes. Forget meetings, what about the general attitudes of people associated with the organization? Do people love or tolerate doing business with you? In other words, are you a favorite restaurant or the DMV? Here too, research is helpful. Simple questions like, “How confident are you in Organization X’s ability to deliver on its mission of Y?” go a long way.
- Outcomes. Perhaps most importantly, how are your outcomes fairing? Are you meeting all your targets with ease, or do they all seem like uphill battles?
If you haven’t thought about your organization’s confidence before, you’re not alone. However, it is definitely worth the effort if you want to work more efficiently, more effectively, and with less stress.