Confidence in Leaders & Managers and Their Performance: Reinforcing Loop

When stakeholders, executives and team members have confidence in the abilities of a leader/manager, it results in their lending greater support to that leader/manager. It also tends to make them more forgiving of mistakes made by the leader. Both of these things result in better performance, effectiveness and results from the leader. That, in turn causes the stakeholders, executives and team members to have even greater confidence in the abilities of the leader. This causal loop scenario is good for the leader’s career.

In the study of System Dynamics, this would be called a reinforcing loop as illustrated in the diagram. This is an example of applying Systems Thinking to a workplace scenario.

The reverse of this also holds. When stakeholders, executives and team members don’t have faith in a manager, it results in them not lending their support and effort to the project being led by the manager. It also causes them to be unforgiving when the manager makes mistakes. Those things result in problems and the project performing poorly. That, in turn results in the people having even less faith and confidence in the manager.

A manager needs to break out of such an undesirable reinforcing loop situation before it results in his/her downfall.

The ways out of such situations include:

  • The executives replace the manager. However, this is often an undesirable result for the manager.
  • The manager has the team work on some tasks in the project that he/she has a high probability of making successful. These help the manager gain the confidence of others.
  • The manager starts to perform other things well that help build confidence in his/her management qualities. For example, becoming highly responsive to emails and requests, following up after meetings and discussions, etc.
  • The manager starts to meet constructively and regularly with executives, stakeholders and team members one on one with the goal of developing and maintaining relationships of trust with them.
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