Tag Archive for: psychological confidence

Chris Kolenda: Boosting Psychological Confidence

Boosting Psychological Confidence

Psychological confidence arises when people are willing to speak up without fear of retribution; they do so respectfully and are confident they’ll be heard.

I prefer this term over psychological safety because safety-ism has created an expectation that employees should be free from accountability. Psychological confidence is about the courage to speak up and listen with an open mind, not about trigger warnings, safe spaces, and microaggressions.

People with psychological confidence report problems immediately, offer you fresh ideas that improve your business, and responsibly try new things that make your people, processes, and products work better. 

You don’t get innovation without psychological confidence.

According to an Accenture study that cites Gartner, HBR, and Gallup, companies with high psychological safety (confidence) experience:

27% lower turnover

76% higher engagement

50% more productivity

Your employees experience:

74% less stress

67% willingness to try new things

29% more life satisfaction

All three elements are vital for psychological confidence. Employees who fear retribution for disagreeing with their boss will keep problems and ideas to themselves, just like the co-pilot on the ill-fated Air France flight 447. 

The inability to disagree agreeably promotes gaslighting – employees will stay silent to avoid being blasted by a colleague. Such self-censoring is rampant on college campuses. 

Finally, no one will waste the effort to speak up if they don’t believe you’ll take them seriously; exhibit A is FTX’s collapse.

Magic happens when all three elements are working together. The willingness to speak up and disagree agreeably creates open-mindedness. Speaking up and believing you’ll be taken seriously creates confidence, and agreeing disagreeably while knowing you’ll be taken seriously builds trust.

Open-mindedness, confidence, and trust are the heartbeat of psychological confidence, creating the abundance mentality to share wisdom and co-create, leading to innovation.

To help you assess the degree of psychological confidence in your organization, Dr. Mark Goulston and I developed a survey that produces your Net Psychological Confidence Score.  

You can take it here as an individual to gauge your personal level of confidence. We can also create a version customized for your organization.

You’ll gain:

  • Your organization’s Net Psychological Confidence score, which you can use as a baseline for gauging progress.
  • Knowledge on what factors are playing the most significant role in your score.
  • Follow-up videos and action steps you can use immediately to strengthen your organization’s psychological confidence.
  • Greater trust, more innovation, lower turnover, and less stress as you implement these steps. 

Check out the survey here, and email me or schedule a call if you’d like to see if your Net Psychological Confidence Score is a good fit for your organization.

psychological confidence

Building Psychological Confidence in a Hyper-Safe Workforce

Psychological confidence is the willingness to speak up respectfully, with the confidence of being taken seriously.

Why it matters

Organizations with high levels of psychological confidence have 27% lower turnover, 74% higher engagement, and 50% more productivity. All of this even as employees report significantly higher life satisfaction (29%), lower stress (74%), and more willingness to try new things (67%).

I prefer psychological confidence over psychological safety because safety-ism has become an excuse never to hear anything you disagree with. You have people (many on college campuses) to whom any constructive criticism (or an A-) makes them feel “unsafe.” This condition is psychological fragility and requires therapy.

In psychologically confident companies, employees will report problems before they become crises, share fresh ideas that will improve your business, and challenge facile thinking.

The chart below compares states of psychological confidence. The north-south axis depicts whether leaders encourage or discourage respectful disagreement, while the east-west axis contrasts conflict-avoidant employees versus conflict-comfortable ones.

Psychological confidence

Leaders may encourage disagreement, but employees who are conflict-avoidant will remain silent. The Air France 447 co-pilot knew what to do but was unwilling to assert himself; the crash in 2009 killed 228 people.

False consensus occurs when leaders discourage disagreement and conflict-avoidant employees self-censor. Many college campuses have this problem. The crypto-company FTX did too. Employees knew of problems, the founder did not want to hear them, and investors lost billions.

Conflict-comfortable employees may face a chilling climate when leaders discourage disagreement. Uber’s co-founder Travis Kalanick created a toxic work environment that prompted top talent to leave and report his misbehavior. Uber’s valuation dropped in half, a loss of $35b. Korean Airlines 801 faced a similar situation: the captain ignored the co-pilot’s warning to follow proper procedures. The crash killed 228 of 254 on board.

The best companies have psychological confidence; leaders encourage respectful disagreement, and employees share their views. Toyota is a super example: any employee who sees a problem can pull the stop lever to halt production. Its Kaizen continuous innovation model encourages people to share ideas and try new things. The trick here is to avoid complacency and backsliding.

Where does your company stand?

I can help you boost your company’s psychological confidence if you are not where you want to be, or if you want to avoid complacency and backsliding.

When you get good at getting better, you can achieve big goals in the simplest way possible.

schedule a call with chris
Founder's forum