Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Foster Success with Small Victories

Confidence is a nebulous, sometimes fragile thing. (Confidence ain't arrogance or ego.) As a leader you need to build the confidence of your team with a regular parade of victories and successes, even if it's a parade of small victories. This is critically important in two different lines of leadership: team confidence and building the confidence of your future leaders.

Team confidence can often hinge on the perception of the team's progress. If your team isn't seeing progress on the project, then frustration builds and morale suffers. One of the reasons I'm such a fan of Big Visible Charts in project workplaces is that the entire team can easily see how you've been doing in delivering velocity. You might feel beat down by a problem you're working on today, but a quick glance at the velocity chart and you can see that you've made some progress on the project this week. Sure, you may be behind projected velocity, but you're still knocking things off and you've still got some success to lay claim to.

Building the confidence of your future leaders is something that too often gets completely ignored. While there are many, many aspects to building your organization's future leaders, one of the simplest, most critical things you can do is start building the confidence of those people at an early point in their careers. Give them small tasks at which they can succeed, then be sure to note their successes. Don't ignore failures, and don't make the tasks or recognition patronizing, but do get them creating a pattern of wins. Increase the complexity and responsibility of those tasks, and continue to give appropriate praise where earned.

Success is habit-forming, and you’re priming the pump for those future leaders by getting them a cadence of seeing success. Your future leaders will gain the confidence that they're able to make correct decisions and will be better positioned to accept more important tasks.

Small victories lead to big wins.

Update: Find links to this series of posts here.

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