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Confidence: How Winning and Losing Streaks Begin and End [Kindle Edition]

Rosabeth Moss Kanter
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $6.01 (38%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on more than 300 interviews with leaders in business, sports and politics, Kanter cogently explains the role confidence plays in the performance of institutions and individuals. Losing streaks are often created and then perpetuated when people lose confidence in their leaders and systems, while winning streaks are fueled by confident people who are secure in their own abilities and the ability of their leaders. Winning streaks are characterized by continuity and continued investment, Kanter argues, while losing streaks are marked by disruption and a lack of investment that typically give way to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. Combining theory with practical advice, Kanter details how losing organizations can instill accountability, collaboration and initiative—Kanter's three pillars of confidence—to help start a turnaround. She illustrates her ideas with a number of real-world examples, among them how the new owner of the Philadelphia Eagles stopped the team's chronic losing ways and built a winning organization. Kanter, a professor at the Harvard Business School and author of numerous books (including Men and Women of the Corporation), delivers valuable insights on the importance of confidence to success and on how organizations can create practices that build that much needed asset.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 415 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400052904
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (September 7, 2004)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC27RC
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,580 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
280 of 302 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An over hyped book with very little of value October 23, 2004
Format:Hardcover
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).
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "patience" --needed to read this book from begin to end December 28, 2006
By j clark
Format:Hardcover
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
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.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst Book Of 2004 - 2005 November 27, 2005
Format:Hardcover
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great concept! Wish it had been a better read. April 23, 2007
Format:Paperback
I'm torn in this review... LOVED the high points and the premise - intriguing and powerful... the concepts are tought provoking and the illustrations on point. In between the strong points are redundant, nauseating passages that preach the obvious, as if trying to create a sense of framework, but doing it unnecessarily. Reads like long winded Tom Peters. A shorter book without those passages would have been much better. It's worth reading for the good parts. Darn, wish she'd had a tougher editor and better writing because the concept has the potential for 5 stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring , Very
How I tried to find the value in these words, but alas, the writing was so cumbersome and the the words seemed to go and on without getting to a point that I could understand. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Diane A
3.0 out of 5 stars You have to drudge through pages and pages of repititive stories to...
I think the book can be useful. First, she should highlight the takeaways at the beginning of each chapter. Second, cut the book in half. Read more
Published 5 months ago by david valdez
5.0 out of 5 stars practical
interesting, many practical applications to be used by reader to benefit from....great read...got a lot from it....common sense approach, very useful...
Published 5 months ago by Ernest G. Irelan
2.0 out of 5 stars Ho-Hum
This author is a little bit self-absorbed. I appreciated the sports and business case-studies, but there are so many more wonderful examples of her subject matter out there. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lawrence Henry Bancke
3.0 out of 5 stars Great examples, worth the read.
Great examples from business and sports. Should have read the actual copy instead of listening to the author, good instructor, not a professional reader, maybe it was me. Read more
Published 24 months ago by 4moreshelflife
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read it!
A great perspective on sustainability. Touches the human emotion and connectedness in the workplace. Very effective!
Published on July 2, 2010 by Lorinda S. Baldwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Building & Maintaining Confidence
In baseball, a team can dominte its foes during a 162 game schedule, cruise into the post season, and then inexplicably lose three straight games to be sent packing. Read more
Published on October 13, 2009 by Larry Underwood
1.0 out of 5 stars Seductive Promise: Fails to Deliver
Alluring promise of exposing "how winning streaks and losing streaks begin and end", but fails to deliver insight or applicable information. Read more
Published on March 29, 2009 by Kathryn Welds
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative perspective on winning and losing
Most of us have either witnessed or been a part of a "winning streak" whether on an individual basis or part of a larger group. Read more
Published on March 10, 2009 by Rebecca Clement
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of time and money
This was an impulse buy that I now regret. In retrospect I wish I had first gone to Amazon to check the unusually high number of 1-star reviews this book has received. Read more
Published on December 1, 2007 by Adult Reader in Calgary
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More About the Author

Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided leaders of large and small organizations worldwide for over 25 years, through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments. The former Editor of Harvard Business Review (1989-1992), Professor Kanter has been named to lists of the "50 most powerful women in the world" (Times of London), and the "50 most influential business thinkers in the world" (Accenture and Thinkers 50 research). In 2001, she received the Academy of Management's Distinguished Career Award for her scholarly contributions to management knowledge, and in 2002 was named "Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year" by the World Teleport Association.

She is the author or co-author of 18 books. Her latest book is SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good, a manifesto for leadership of sustainable enterprises. SuperCorp is based on three years of research and more than 350 interviews in 20 countries.

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