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Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Rosabeth Moss Kanter
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31. August 2004
From the boardroom to the locker room to the living room—how winners become winners . . . and stay that way.

Is success simply a matter of money and talent? Or is there another reason why some people and organizations always land on their feet, while others, equally talented, stumble again and again?

There’s a fundamental principle at work—the vital but previously unexamined factor called confidence—that permits unexpected people to achieve high levels of performance through routines that activate talent. Confidence explains:

• Why the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team continues its winning ways even though recent teams lack the talent of their predecessors
• Why some companies are always positively perceived by employees, customers, Wall Street analysts, and the media while others are under a perpetual cloud
• How a company like Gillette or a team like the Chicago Cubs ends a losing streak and breaks out of a circle of doom
• The lessons a politician such as Nelson Mandela, who resisted the temptation to take revenge after being released from prison and assuming power, offers for leaders in both advanced democracies and trouble spots like the Middle East

From the simplest ball games to the most complicated business and political situations, the common element in winning is a basic truth about people: They rise to the occasion when leaders help them gain the confidence to do it.

Confidence is the new theory and practice of success, explaining why success and failure are not mere episodes but self-perpetuating trajectories. Rosabeth Moss Kanter shows why organizations of all types may be brimming with talent but not be winners, and provides people in leadership positions with a practical program for either maintaining a winning streak or turning around a downward spiral.
Confidence is based on an extraordinary investigation of success and failure in companies such as Continental Airlines, Seagate, and Verizon and sports teams such as the University of North Carolina women’s soccer team, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as schools, health care, and politics.

Packed with brilliant, practical ideas such as “powerlessness corrupts” and the “timidity of mediocrity,” Confidence provides fresh thinking for perpetuating winning streaks and ending losing streaks in all facets of life—from the factors that can make or break corporations and governments to the keys for successful relationships in the workplace or at home.


  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 416 Seiten
  • Verlag: Crown Business (31. August 2004)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 1400052904
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400052905
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 24,5 x 16,3 x 3,3 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 492.428 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Rosabeth Moss Kanter will convince you that the goal of winning is not losing two times in a row. In her view, success and failure are not events, they are self-fulfilling tendencies. "Confidence is the sweet spot between arrogance and despair--consisting of positive expectations for favorable outcomes." says Kanter, a Harvard Business School Professor and author of The Change Masters.

She applies the literature of cognitive psychology (dissonance, explanatory models, learned optimism) to explore the winning and losing streaks of a diverse lineup including the BBC, Gillette, Verizon, Continental Airlines, the Chicago Cubs, and Target. The result is a brilliant anatomy lesson of the big decisions and the small gestures that build and restore confidence.

Three cornerstones are clearly detailed: "Accountability," the actions that involve facing facts without humiliation; "Collaboration," the rituals of respect that create teamwork, and "Initiative/Innovation," the "kaleidoscope thinking" that unlocks energy and creativity. A standout chapter describes how Nelson Mandela created a culture of confidence in South Africa. Some readers may wish for more strategies about positive habits of mind in individuals. Others will search for a quick fix. Instead, Moss Kanter’s in-depth examples and ideas about resilient organizations will become required reading. They add up to a persuasive and informed optimism. --Barbara Mackoff


A Business Week Bestseller

Confidence . . . makes the compelling argument that the people who succeed are the people who expect to succeed.” —Elle

“A successful book on leadership that illuminates the underlying principles applicable to teams and small businesses as well as schools, corporations, and countries.” —Washington Post

“Well-researched and engaging. . . . Kanter is a witty and entertaining writer.” —Miami Herald

“Finally, there’s a powerful book that digs out the truth about winners in every walk of life.” —David Gergen, editor at large, U.S. News and World Report, and presidential counselor  

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Thorough Look at Leadership Basics to Build Confidence 29. November 2004
Von Donald Mitchell TOP 500 REZENSENT
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
There are many leadership books about what the job of leaders is, and there are some excellent books about how optimistic people accomplish more. Confidence is the first book that I have seen that combines both perspectives in to a description of leadership basics to use confidence to accomplish more. The most valuable part of the book is in how to build confidence in a turnaround situation, another subject about which many good books have been written.

The book's main strength is found in its many compelling stories of how sports, business, non-profit and government organizations have gotten caught up in vicious cycles of losing confidence, broken those cycles and build virtuous cycles of building confidence and effectiveness. These stories are not only interesting; they are balanced for gender and race as well. You come away with a sense that the book's principles are more than adequately established across a broad range of experiences and backgrounds.

I especially enjoyed the rich details behind the headlines of many of these famous stories. In each case, I gained from adding details that I didn't know before even though I was aware of most of the organizational stores involved (I even know some of the people).

Those who get lost in the details will be pleased to discover that Professor Kanter summarizes her findings, with references back to the most telling examples in the brief Part III.

Leaders help create confidence by setting high standards, being a role model for those standards, and establishing processes to get the job done. The cornerstones of confidence that leaders should use include individual and system accountability, mutual respect, communication, collaboration, initiative, imagination and innovation.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.5 von 5 Sternen  51 Rezensionen
282 von 304 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen An over hyped book with very little of value 23. Oktober 2004
Von Sean M. Gallagher - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
REVIEW SUMMARY: The author of CONFIDENCE informs the reader "I wrote this book not only to show teams, companies, communities, and countries how to cultivate better leadership. I also had a grander goal: to help people in many walks of life to find the confidence to win whatever game they are playing..." (page 350) Unfortunately, the product of these laudable goals falls woefully short both as a source of wisdom and as an interesting read. Those seeking insight into to how to best lead change, how to increase their own confidence, or strategies for effective leadership in general, should select other sources. Several excellent books are recommended at the end of this review.

REVIEW: CONFIDENCE fails the reader for 3 reasons: 1) the few insights provided are so basic as to be best described as trite; 2) the surplus verbiage and detail embedded in the text and examples causes the reader's mind to wander; and 3) the author's excessive reference to herself is in conflict with the leadership advice she is offering and seems to border on narcissism.

In the book's final chapter Ms. Kanter boils down the breadth of her wisdom to the following hackneyed bit of advice: "By now the secret of winning should be clear: Try not to lose twice in a row." (page 350) The author believes this sentence to be so valuable, indeed, so profound, that she makes it a separate paragraph.

The author indulges herself with superfluous detail that can drive the reader to distraction. For example, in describing the Philadelphia Eagles' need to prioritize their resources and efforts, Ms. Kanter included the following sentence: "Andy Reid's request for software for his Avid computer system had to take a backseat to the technology needs of the stadium." (page 157). This excess verbiage, and countless other examples, is testament to the author's lack of consideration for the fact that the reader's time is valuable, and we struggle with information overload.

Ms. Kanter's frequent references to herself reminds one of a tabloid gossip columnist seeking to convey his/her own self importance. We learn the names of her son and husband, the breed of dog she has, that she lives in Cambridge and walks to work at Harvard Business School along the Charles River in Boston and that she vacations in Martha's Vineyard and Miami. That she was one of the few to be invited to the Economic Summits of both Presidents Bush (senior) and Clinton. And that she plays tennis. It seems to this reviewer that the author includes this insipid text to hide the fact that she does not have much to say of value to the reader.

The excessive use of first person pronouns is perhaps unequaled in managerial professional literature. In the 3.5 paragraphs found on the first page of the Preface, a reader will find the words "my" or "I" 20 times - that's not a typo, twenty uses of first person pronouns in 3.5 paragraphs. I compared the first Preface page of several of the highly regarded management guru Peter Drucker's books and found a complete lack of first person pronouns. Ms. Kanter's extreme reference to herself is consistent throughout the book. It's as if she had no help researching and writing the book. Her assistants and collaborators should be forever thankful of the oversight.

If this book was written by "John Doe" of "No-Name Business School," it would have never been accepted for publication because it is poorly written and contains very little of value.


Wonderful books on leadership available from Amazon:

1) "John P. Kotter on What Leaders Really Do" by John P. Kotter. The entire book is great, though a little dry, chapters 1 and 4 are brilliant and are worth rereading every year.

2) "Leading At The Edge" by Dennis N. T. Perkins. Perkins' book draws on the incredible story of Shackleton's 1914 - 1916 Antarctic Expedition to reveal the power of effective organizational leadership under conditions of uncertainty, ambiguity, and rapid change. The book uncovers 10 lessons complete with inspiring examples from the Shackleton expedition, as well as contemporary business case studies of the strategies in action on what it takes to be a great leader. A wonderfully written book with very valuable ideas.

Books on "confidence" from Amazon:

1) "Learned Optimism" by Martin E. P. Seligman. Optimism and confidence are inextricably linked. The book is a very interesting to read and provides a self-test to help the reader determine if they look at the world with pessimistic lenses or optimistic lenses. He then goes on to offer techniques for enhancing one's optimism and, therefore, one's confidence. A well researched and written book.
14 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen "patience" --needed to read this book from begin to end 28. Dezember 2006
Von j clark - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I had great expectations of this book as it started out OK. But soon (within a couple chapters) I realized that the author had run out of new things to say. While there are some non-fiction authors that can captivate and entertain an audience with a single concept (ie... Gladwell w/"Tipping Point/Blink"), this author's writing style seems unusually laborious and repetitive -- languishing in incomprehensible detail. Sad to say, but I think I would have been better off just reading a synopsis of this book.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen This book is boring, tedious, and thoroughly uninspiring 7. Februar 2006
Von T. Berarducci - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I can't believe the average customer review is greater than 4 stars! This book was a chore to read; I will admit that I could not drag myself throught he entire text. And I mean "text". This book was written like a textbook. I felt I back in college slogging through my required reading. This book was written as if someone did a whole bunch of research (using many different grad students of course), then tried to compile all the data into a book. The problem is, anybody can do that, but few can do that well. The writer loses the reader in all those details, forgeting to stick to the basics, highlight them with interesting examples, and repeat them often. I know she probably thinks she did this, and she did, just not well. I've never seen such an interesting topic made so boring.
22 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Worst Book Of 2004 - 2005 28. November 2005
Von Anonymous - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Recently I got into a conversation with the guy next to me on the plane about some of the memorable books we had each read in the past few years. Unfortunately, I had to recall `Confidence'-easily the worst book I've read in years.

To describe it as disappointing is to go easy on Ms. Kanter. It is far beyond that, and altogether abominable and embarrassing. That such a prestigious business school like Harvard can tenure a professor who writes such insipid pablum boggles the mind.

Let's start with the central (and only) idea of the book--that winning begets winning and losing begets losing. This of course strikes most people as fairly straightforward and unworthy of a book's worth of elaboration. Yet Ms. Kanter tumbles all over herself to spell out the details: why this is the case (as if someone with an ounce of inferential ability couldn't figure it out in a couple of minutes), how it affects team morale, how it self-perpetuates, etc... And worst of all, endless, endless, endless examples that do nothing or very little to elucidate; rather, they simply restate what has just been said. And they restate and restate and restate.

Tautological (I think the word was invented in anticipation of this book), boring, tedious, insipid, stupid, unthoughtful, unenergetic, disengaged, disrespectful. All these adjectives apply forcefully to the book. Most of all, though, it is utterly uninventive and cliched.

Turn to any page and you'll find such gems of penetrating insight as (forgive me, but these are so funny I have to quote at length):

"Winning feels good, and good moods are contagious. Success makes it easier to view events in a positive light, to generate optimism. It produces energy and promotes morale. It is easier to aim high and expect to reach the target." (P. 29)

"Overcoming obstacles, leaping over hurdles, and recovering from fumbles can strengthen a team that has the discipline not to panic under pressure." (P. 71)

"Once the 'loser' label gets slapped on, those suffering losses are set up to fail. They find it harder to get support, harder to get opportunities." (P. 115)

"Various turnaround tasks operate on different clocks. Bold strokes are fast and can be done by one powerful person; long marches to change culture and behavior take more time and the commitment of many people. Execution is play by play, game by game, while strategy is season by season..." (P. 178)

"People embodying the pathologies of the past can always be replaced, but eliminating the bad does not automatically produce the good. It takes a major effort on the part of leaders to foster confidence that a demoralized company or group is capable of working together and succeeding at it. Restoring people's (sic) confidence in one another requires four kinds of action..." (P. 241)

"Confidence is an expectation of a positive outcome, but what happens when outcomes are negative? The dividing line between winning streaks and losing streaks is the choice of behavior in response to setbacks...

That decision to build rather than retreat, to rally rather than get discouraged, involves viewing setbacks through an optimistic lens, as an opportunity to learn and move on." (P. 357)

And it just goes on and on, mercilessly and cluelessly.

The wisest, most incisive business people read, study and think about far more than just sports and business. I would recommend Ms. Kanter first enroll in a decent freshman-level literature or history seminar. There she can learn to write and, with some effort on her part and perhaps a bit of luck, to formulate some imaginative approaches to problem-solving.

Beyond this bilge, I have had the good fortune to come across many books that have helped address confidence. These are: selected essays by Montaigne and Emerson, `Hamlet', Whitman's "Song Of Myself", David Herbert Donald's biography `Lincoln', `Emotional Intelligence', `Flow', and Jack Welch's `Winning'.

`Confidence' inspires confidence only in the realization that you (no matter who you are) are at least intelligent enough to be the "Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor" at Harvard Business School.
33 von 42 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Essential for understanding business and career change 28. September 2004
Von Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The word "confidence" gets overused and abused among many personal and business coaches, so I was surprised to see Kanter's choice of title. In a way, it's misleading, because Kanter focuses more broadly on how to capitalize on winning streaks and turn around losing streaks. Confidence is only part of a leadership formula.

Kanter chooses sports examples because they're clear-cut. Wins and losses are easy to identify. However, the lessons from those case histories apply to a variety of business, organizational and personal situations.

If you read carefully, she warns that turnarounds aren't easy. "Try not to lose twice in a row," she warns. If you conclude there's no point in trying to win, there's trouble ahead. Signs of a losing streak include weak accountability, deteriorating relationships and disappearing initiative. "The only good thing about losing is that it sounds an alarm bell," she concludes.

Once you realize you're on a losing streak, Kanter emphasizes, you need to build, not retreat. Stay calm, she says. Dig deeper. Work harder. Seek support, even when you feel like hiding. And most important, remember you can't "jump the processes." Use small steps to achieve big goals. Everybody wants a quick fix and that's a surefire recipe for disaster.

As a career consultant, I am often asked how to break individual losing streaks. Typically a client says something like, "I lost my job, got sick, had family crises, and had to move. And now I'm defeated." Or clients lose one job after another, fueled by discouragement.

Kanter's book has to be translated to reach individuals. Her message seems to be, "Someone has to take charge." In one moving example, a family rallied behind a teenager who was failing math. They bought him nice clothes to communicate, "You're worth it." The stigma of hiring a tutor was defused by making the tutor a member of "Team Robert." In another example, a woman's public humiliation was defused by her husband's strong encouragement.

So if you lack an insightful manager or empathetic relatives, you may have to draw your own plan. Coaches and consultants may become your change managers. I'm working on an article for my website on this very topic.

Bottom line, though, this book clearly targets managers who are in a position to mastermind a turnaround. I'd have liked to see more about the way individual employees or team members can handle themselves, regardless of the leader's capabilities. Should they leave a losing organization? Strengthen themselves and create their own goals?

Kanter has always studied organizations at the macro level and it's not reasonable to ask her to address individuals now. This book deserves attention for frank, unsparing focus on winners and losers, and for an understanding of the way organizations win and lose every day, all around us.
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