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What would you do if you couldn't fail?

We love this question and ask it often – of ourselves and others.

Doesn’t it just encourage you to expand your thinking? It helps you get out any rut you might be in and frankly stops you right in your tracks to ponder for a minute or two.

It taps right into our inner confidence doesn’t it?

How many people in work are fully confident do you think?

According to Resume Lab, one study revealed 79% of women and 62% of men experience a lack of confidence in the workplace. Another reported that a massive 93% of workers had experienced a drop in confidence due to incidents that happened at work.

Confidence can be affected by so many things. For example:

  • How well you think you’re doing?

  • How joyful or ‘trying’ your relationships are,

  • The security we feel in the economic situation

It can be affected by things that are within our control or completely outside of it.

When people feel under pressure, their confidence reduces and they just don’t perform as well. This is where empathetic leaders play such a crucial role in helping people process what’s going on and actively building their confidence.

When businesses aren’t confident what do they do - they focus on the 'post-its' or equivalent – they dive into cost cutting, start micro-manage and pile on pressure for people to deliver.

They become more demanding and critical at the very time they need to exercise more empathy.

You simply can’t get someone to focus with drive and passion if they are worried and this is where great leaders come into their own. They allow space and opportunity for others to explore and then redirect them towards a keener focus.

Creating psychological safety

Psychological safety is about providing an environment where people feel it's ok to be themselves, to share their ideas and have no fear of being shown up or told off. When it's present the effect can be electrifying.

Amy Edmonson, a professor of leadership at Harvard Business School, who’s focus is psychological safety explains that most organisations are operating in the anxiety zone, I also see many companies operating in the apathy zone too. It is only when we move the organisation into the learning zone that individuals AND the organisation can flourish.

She says “Anyone’s voice at any time can be mission critical.” So, I wonder what organisations might be missing out on if they are in the not in the learning zone?

As leaders what can you do right now?

  1. Ask genuinely how people are feeling and listen attentively to what comes out. Help them work out what’s within their control and what isn’t.

  2. Actively encourage collaboration. All too often team meetings are a download of information or only a few people speak out. Ask a probing question at each team meeting to build a discipline of speaking out, sharing and exploring ideas so that when it is mission critical they are ready and prepared for the BIG conversations.

    1. “what are the biggest challenges you are facing in your role right now?

    2. “what’s the most exciting thing that’s happened this week for you?”

    3. “what do you think is the biggest risk to our business right now?

    4. “if you could change one thing about the way we work what would it be?”

  3. Work on trust by encouraging open conversations. One company we work with asks a ‘getting to know you’ question every week and people post their answers on Slack. This helps people find connections between each other.

  4. Eliminate blame and moaning from the narrative of your team – have a zero tolerance for it.

  5. Encourage feedback – give and receive feedback openly. Focus on what you want from individuals Not what you don’t want and see people’s confidence rise.

And finally,

6. Be a watchdog – keep a keen eye on the challenges with hybrid working to ensure no one loses out or feels discomfort because their working arrangements happen to mean they can get more done when they work from home.


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