Self efficacy is the belief you hold about about what you can and cannot make happen in your life. It does not refer to the actual skills you have, but what you believe you can accomplish with those skills. It is about believing you have the ability to pull together your social, physical, thinking and behavioral skills to accomplish bigger, bolder goals than you originally thought possible.
People with a strong sense of self efficacy generally perform at much higher levels partly because they see setbacks and obstacles as challenges to be overcome.
During the Barcelona Games, Australian swimmer Kieren Perkins (who was expected to take many golds and break several world records) was not swimming particularly well in the heats. Australia and much of the world had all but written Kieren off.
The day before the final both he and Daniel Kozlowski (another Australian swimmer who had always played second fiddle to Kieren) were interviewed. Daniel said something along the lines of: 'even though Kieren isn't swimming well, if I can just keep up with him I will finish in the top few.'
Kieren was recorded as saying "Look, I haven't been feeling the best, but I'm on the mend and tomorrow I will come out and win that race well". And he did - he won Gold!
Successful Experience - Success builds a strong belief that you can do it. Repeatedly handling difficult situations will build a sense of "I can do it".
Modeling - We get a boost from watching others who are similar to us succeed "If s/he can do it, then so can I".
Feedback from Others - Positive encouragement from people that we believe 'have the touch' can imbue in us the sense that we are capable
Physiological - Watching how 'uptight' we are feeling gives us feedback as to whether we think we are capable or not - e.g. clammy hands and butterflies in the tummy may cause us to think "I can't do this"
A person with high self-efficacy tends to set very big goals and remains motivated despite the threat of failure. A person with low self-efficacy will set much smaller goals, and at the first sign of setback will give up on the goal or the dream. Read here a simple five step process on how to bounce back quickly after failure
If you find yourself setting a big goal and becoming intimidated by it - that's okay - we all feel intimidated at times. What is not okay is to stay intimidated. Unfortunately, often times when we are intimidated by a goal or a dream we tend to say the goal is a dumb goal, it was a dumb idea, and we talk ourselves out of going after it. We make the goal or the dream smaller to fit our level of efficacy.
You can build your efficacy by consciously looking for opportunities to apply each of four steps listed above.
As you change the way you think you will change the way you act.
As you change the way you act, you will change the results you achieve!
Not only do individuals have a high and low efficacy, but so too do groups. If you have a group of people with low efficacy ... they believe they are not capable of causing things to happen ... then watch out. They will talk down/ridicule any change or new vision/goal, because they don't believe they are able to bring it off. They begin to use negative creativity (how to get the goal to go away) vs positive creativity (how are we going to get this goal and then go one better).
As a Leader one of your most critical tasks is to ensure your team has a high collective efficacy ... so that as new goals, problems, opportunities come your way, you are able to rally the team around and get the team to gang up on them. Help your team to know that they are more than capable of achieving whatever it is you need to achieve. You do this by building opportunities for each of the four factors above to occur in your daily interactions.
The good news is that you can grow your own efficacy, and as a leader you can grow the efficacy of the individuals/group you are working with. You simply apply the four steps listed above. Here is an example of how I worked with a team member, using the four steps listed, to help him improve his self-efficacy.
Look at the goals you have set during the past 12 months, which if any, of those did you 'back-up' because you didn't believe you could achieve them
Identify two or three areas if you changed your belief system about yourself or your team changed its belief system, then you could reach out and achieve bigger goals
Search within and ask yourself: What is it that I truly want for my life, my family, my community, my workplace (now this one you should spend a load of time on!). If you haven't already now is the time to start developing your personal mission development.
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