Self-Efficacy: Boosting Your Belief in Success
At the start of the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the lead croons to his mirror, “I believe in you.” This is the very definition of self-efficacy.
Your belief in your own ability to surmount obstacles and achieve success is your self-efficacy, as distinct from self-esteem (overall feeling of worth) and self-management (a strategy for success). At the heart of self-efficacy is an individual’s commitment to achieving desired results and ability to recover from setbacks (resilience).
The Benefits of Self-Efficacy
The primary researcher into self-efficacy, Albert Bandura, states:
“When people err in their self-appraisal they tend to overestimate their capabilities. This is a benefit rather than a cognitive failing to be eradicated. If efficacy beliefs always reflected only what people can do routinely they would rarely fail but they would not set aspirations beyond their immediate reach nor mount the extra effort needed to surpass their ordinary performances.”
He points out that the potential for both change and innovation rely on people’s belief that they themselves can reach the desired outcome and that rejection of their efforts is not a personal failing.
How to Measure Self-Efficacy
One measure of self-efficacy is whether you believe in your own powers to surmount obstacles to reach your goal or do you immediately give up. Do you look for solutions or for someone or something else to blame? If the obstacles to one goal are truly insurmountable, do you seek another goal or do you declare that no effort is ever worthwhile?
Another measure is your understanding of what is important to you and your commitment to obtaining it. Do you believe that reaching for one goal increases your chances of obtaining the next—that you can increase your abilities, talents, and skills?
Self-efficacy can have a potential drawback. Some people have a very high feeling of self-efficacy because they are aggressive. Aggression enables them to obtain their goals by forcing others to their will and encourages them to believe in their own powers because aggression works.
How to Increase Self-Efficacy
Psychologists generally believe that you can increase your self-efficacy by:
- Obtaining more opportunities to master a skill
- Observing a role model or mentor
- Hearing that you can reach a goal or master a skill
- Promoting your health, enabling you to focus the goal rather than deal with emotional or physical problems
- Visualizing a positive result.
These tactics will work in both personal and professional environments.
Self-Efficacy in a Team
The self-efficacy of a team—its belief in its ability to achieve goals and persevere until they are achieved—is rooted in the self-efficacy of each member. It is boosted by the influence of role models and mentors. One study focused on teams of students who were asked to develop a new flavor of ice cream. It found that having common prior teamwork experience but different task expertise increased teamwork self-efficacy.
Self-Efficacy in a Leader
As a leader, one of your roles should be ensuring that team members are aware of and respectful of different task experiences and to serve as a model or mentor of self-efficacy for the team.
But as a leader, you also need self-efficacy to thrive in your career. You have to believe in your ability to influence the team, made decisions, and figure out alternative routes to a goal. If you and your organization want to develop leadership in others, then helping them to increase their self-efficacy, by the five methods described previously, is the primary starting point.
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