The Domino Effect of Confidence

Confidence is a funny thing.  People say it's contagious, and I totally agree with that, particularly on sports teams.  I've been on some great baseball teams when I was younger and we walked onto the field thinking, or knowing, rather, that we were going to pound out 10 or 15 runs a game.  It's tough to beat that.  Similarly, when things weren't going well, we had innings that we felt like we'd never get an out.

But what's also interesting about confidence is that not only does it spread, but it often has a powerful causality that may not be initially obvious.

For example...   When you delegate, and someone doesn't carry out a task exactly as you would, your reaction can have some unintended results down the line.  Let's say you correct them in ways that aren't qualitative, but just more along the lines of style choice.  Then, the next time, they come to you for every little thing because they know you'll wind up changing it.  Eventually, you'll be creating a bunch of people that can't execute, or that you don't allow to execute.   

Even worse, when you don't get behind your staff and their decisions, eventually, people start going around them and checking with you on every little thing.  Before you know it, all roads lead to you and you become the bottleneck.

This happened to me when I was in college.  I had started a business newspaper that ran for two years, but being the perfectionist, I always wound up doing things myself if I wasn't happy with the work of the people around me.  I wouldn't settle for any kind of quality dropoff when we started.  What happened was that the people under me never really learned how to edit, do layout, etc...   and so the paper folded when I graduated.   

Plus, it's really unmotivating to a staff when they know that whatever they turn in isn't going to make the final cut anyway... that no matter what new ideas they come up with, they don't also have the power to execute them and be responsible.  They fall back on their heels because they can't move forward without you.

The dominos start falling down outside of your organization as well.  You send your staff out into the wild of business development and conferences, and it becomes obvious to others that you are not an empowered decision maker.  You get taken less seriously and your organization gets the reputation as a slow mover. 

Don't get me wrong... relying on people who don't do everything exactly the way you do or who might not be the perfectionist that you were is difficult... but sometimes, you need to let your people show you and the world what they've got, support them, and live with whatever they put out there.  Otherwise, they'll never grow up and you'll find yourself the last man standing, and your college newspaper will fold.  :)