What does confidence look like?

I love this quote about confidence as investment by Rosabeth Moss Kanter in Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End:

Confidence influences the willingness to invest—to commit money, time, reputation, emotional energy, or other resources—or to withhold or hedge investment. This investment, or its absence, shapes the ability to perform. In that sense, confidence lies at the heart of civilization. Everything about an economy, a society, an organization, or a team depends on it.

I worked in an organization where confidence was so highly valued that it was listed as a core competency. You were expected to display confidence during meetings, delivering presentations, and writing emails. As I experienced confidence in this organization, I noticed that it could have positive and negative impacts on people and results. We even developed metaphors to express how one’s confidence influenced others: you were either a radiator or a drain.  You definitely wanted to be seen as a radiator. 

Radiators are people who motivate and excite others about their ideas and projects. They are passionate about their goals and evoke passion from others. People want to listen to radiators and to be around them.

Drains are people seen as plagued by self-doubt and overall negativity. They sap the energy in a room just by showing up, leaving others exhausted and unmotivated.

  • How do you see yourself at work: as a radiator or drain?
  • How do others see you? If you haven’t asked, their answers may surprise you.

What does confidence look like in your workplace?

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