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Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End Hardcover – August 31, 2004

3.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (August 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400052904
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400052905
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,178,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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