Three Pillars for Building Self-Efficacy


Self-efficacy is your belief about your ability to influence events that affect your life. Your self-efficacy beliefs determine how you think, feel, motivate yourself, and behave. If you have a strong sense of efficacy, then you approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided. In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about how to build your foundation for self-efficacy.

Key Take Aways

Here are my key take aways:

  • Don’t fail at the basics. Get the basics right. Either you master administration or it masters you. This is also a case where a stitch in time saves nine. If you start off on the right foot, you make it easier downstream while folks are making their minds up about you. Impress them up front and life gets easier. You’ll build momentum for success if you establish good habits early on.
  • Grow your support system. You can roll with the punches if you have an effective support system.
  • Leverage the success strategies. They’re a proven recipe for results.

The Three Pillars of Self-Efficacy

How can you create virtuous cycles that build momentum? How do you avoid vicious cycles that sap your strength? You build a foundation for self-efficacy. Your build your foundation with three pillars.

  • Pillar 1: Adopting Success Strategies.
  • Pillar 2: Enforcing Personal Disciplines.
  • Pillar 3: Building Your Support System.

Pillar 1: Adopting Success Strategies

Watkins outlines the following success strategies:

  • Promote yourself.
  • Accelerate your learning.
  • Match strategy to situation.
  • Secure early wins.
  • Negotiate success.
  • Achieve alignment.
  • Build your team.
  • Create coalitions.

For more information on the strategies, see Ten Key Success Strategies. To see how well your are doing with the strategies, see Checking Whether You’re on Track. Also see, Avoiding Vicious Cycles to make sure you’re keeping your balance and staying focused on the right things.

Pillar 2: Enforcing Personal Disciplines

Watkins identifies key personal disciplines:

  • Plan to plan.
  • Judiciously defer commitment.
  • Set aside time for the hard work.
  • Go to the balcony.
  • Focus on influence process design.
  • Check in with yourself.
  • Recognize when to quit.

See Guidelines for Structured Reflection.

Pillar 3: Building Your Support System

Watkins identifies the keys to an effective support system:

  • Assert control locally.
  • Stabilize the home front.
  • Build your advice and counsel network.

Quickly setup your basic infrastructure at work, develop your routines and set expectations. This will free you up to work on the tough stuff. Don’t let home, rock the boat at work. See Building Your Advice-and-Counsel Network for tips on building your support system.

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