Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and EndRosabeth Moss Kanter. Crown Business, 2004. $27.50.
ISBN: 1-4000-5290-4. www.randomhouse.com/crown.
REVIEWED BY MILTON W. ZWICKERIt’s a familiar refrain: If you want to win in court, on the golf course or in the bottom line, you need confidence. Rosabeth Moss Kanter provides us with a concrete understanding of what this refrain means, and how it works, in her book Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End.According to Kanter, a Harvard Business School professor, “Confidence underlies the performance of individuals, teams, businesses, schools, economies and nations.” Yet despite that fact, she says there is remarkably little understanding of what lies behind the idea of confidence.Why, for example, do some law firms blow apart while others succeed at whatever they do? Kanter’s research shows that losing streaks are often created and then perpetuated when people lose confidence in their leaders and systems. Winning streaks, on the other hand, are fueled by confident people who are secure in their own abilities and the abilities of their leaders.She illustrates her ideas with examples from business, sports, schools and many other organizations—big and small. In the process, she takes the mystery out of confidence—where it comes from, how to get it and how to keep it. At the same time, she explains how to use its cornerstones—accountability, collaboration and initiative—to turn losers into winners.(My favorite story of an organization that overcame its bad habits is Peabody Elementary School in Memphis. There, as Kanter explains, principal Marty Pettigrew used the cornerstones of confidence to turn an inner-city elementary school into a winning organization.)When you read what Kanter calls the “nine pathologies” that unfold during losing streaks, you can’t help but think of what happens inside law firms when they begin their death marches:
Milton W. Zwickeris Managing Partner of Zwicker Evans & Lewis in Orillia, ON.