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Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End

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From the locker room to the living room to the boardroom—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–confidence–that makes the difference between winning and losing in any competition, be it a high school basketball game or a high-stakes business situation. In Confidence , Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter shows why organizations of all types may be brimming with talent but not be winners. Based on her extraordinary investigation of success and failure in companies such as Continental Airlines and Verizon and sports teams such as the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as the arenas of education, health care, and politics, Kanter explores a new theory and practice of success and provides people in leadership positions with a prescriptive program for maintaining a winning streak or turning around a downward spiral.

Packed with brilliant, practical ideas, Confidence provides fresh thinking about success 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.

432 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2004

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About the author

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

59 books46 followers
Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. She is also Chair and Director of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative, an innovation that helps successful leaders at the top of their professions apply their skills to national and global challenges in their next life stage. A collaboration across all of Harvard, the Advanced Leadership Initiative aims to build a new leadership force for the world.

Her latest book, MOVE: Putting America's Infrastructure Back in the Lead, is a sweeping look across industries and technologies shaping the future of mobility and the leadership required for transformation. Her strategic and practical insights guide leaders of large and small organizations worldwide, through her teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments. The former chief Editor of Harvard Business Review, Professor Kanter has been repeatedly 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” (Thinkers 50). She has received 24 honorary doctoral degrees, as well as numerous leadership awards, lifetime achievement awards, and prizes. These include the Academy of Management’s Distinguished Career Award for scholarly contributions to management knowledge; the World Teleport Association's “Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year” award; the International Leadership Award from the Association of Leadership Professionals; and the Warren Bennis Award for Leadership Excellence.

She is the author or coauthor of 19 books. Her book The Change Masters was named one of the most influential business books of the 20th century (Financial Times). SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good, a manifesto for leadership of sustainable enterprises, was named one of the ten best business books of 2009 by Amazon.com. A related article, "How Great Companies Think Differently," received Harvard Business Review's 2011 McKinsey Award for the year's two best articles. Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End (a New York Times business bestseller and #1 Business Week bestseller), describes the culture of high-performance organizations compared with those in decline and shows how to lead turnarounds, whether in businesses, schools, sports teams, or countries. Men & Women of the Corporation, winner of the C. Wright Mills award for the best book on social issues and called a classic, offers insight into the individual and organizational factors that promote success or perpetuate disadvantage; a spin-off video, A Tale of ‘O’: On Being Different, is a widely-used tool for diversity training. A related book, Work & Family in the United States, set a policy agenda; later, a coalition of university centers created in her honor the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for the best research on work/family issues. Another award-winning book, When Giants Learn to Dance, showed how to master the new terms of competition at the dawn of the global information age. World Class: Thriving Locally in the Global Economy identified the rise of new business networks and dilemmas of globalization, a theme she continues to pursue in her new book MOVE and the Harvard Business School U.S. Competitiveness Project.

Through her consulting arm, Goodmeasure Inc., she advises numerous CEOs and has partnered with IBM on applying her leadership tools from business to other sectors as a Senior Advisor for IBM’s Global Citizenship portfolio. She has served on many business and non-profit boards, such as City Year, the urban “Peace Corps” addressing the school dropout crisis through national service, and on a variety of national or regional commissions including the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. She speaks widely, often sharing the platform with Presidents, Pr

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5 stars
190 (38%)
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166 (33%)
3 stars
98 (19%)
2 stars
32 (6%)
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11 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 26 of 26 reviews
521 reviews15 followers
October 25, 2015
i was looking forward to reading this book, as i had read several of Kanter's articles in magazines. unfortunately, the book reads like a mish-mash of articles from the Harvard Business Review. some of the anecdotes are interesting, in particular the stories about Mandela, but the book felt very very repetitive, even by the standards of a management book. there is some good information here, but nothing that is not covered well in one magazine article or in a different and better book. not recommended.
Profile Image for Robert.
187 reviews67 followers
July 25, 2008
Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Crown Books

This subtitle is accurate but does not fully indicate the nature and extent of what Kanter achieves in her latest book. She does indeed explain how and why both winning streaks and losing streaks begin and end but she also explores with her characteristic rigor and eloquence what she calls a basic truth: "People rise to the occasion when they have the confidence to do it." Human success and failure have quite specific cycles that can be measured in terms of equally specific trajectories. However, when human nature is involved, geometric measurement (at best) indicates trends, patterns, etc. but fails to explain the single most important, indeed most decisive element: self-image. Henry Ford no doubt had that in mind when suggesting "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." Kanter would agree, of course, but WHY do so few people demonstrate a positive self-fulfilling prophecy whereas most demonstrate a negative self-fulfilling prophecy? These are among the questions which Kanter addresses in this book.

Both winning streaks and losing streaks seem to be contagious. Kanter helps her reader to understand how they develop and, more importantly, what they reveal about their probable causes. In her final chapter she observes "In losing streaks, it seems as though talent has disappeared and decline is inevitable -- or else why would the workers, the managers, the politicians, the players let the situation continue to deteriorate? [i.e. the negative self-fulfilling prophecy] The opposite appears to be at work in winning streaks -- that individuals can perform miracles, that they do indeed walk on water. But every water walker needs the stones to make it possible to move across the water." This may well be Kanter's most valuable book because it speaks to anyone and to everyone who struggles to "rise to the occasion" but now lacks the confidence to do it. The stones are already there beneath them. Kanter will help her reader to locate them, then "rise to victory"...not only in competition but in personal fulfillment.
Profile Image for Om Manghani.
63 reviews2 followers
May 23, 2016
This was the second book that I read for the non-fiction unit, and I feel that there were some good points made, and Rosabeth Moss Kanter was able to balance narratives with the actual non-fiction very nicely. Although I skipped parts, it went deeper into an issue that I am passionate about, and widened my view to how confidence is applied in different areas of life.

Reading about confidence makes me understand some other parts of humans better, something I love to do. Throughout this book, and books before, I have been thinking a lot about people and how we function. This book has added to my understanding of my issue, and the complexity of the world we live in.
5 reviews
March 23, 2020
I stopped reading after around 10%. Annoyed badly by the self promoting jabber (and I don't mean subtle short sentences, but pages after pages of throwing meantime numbers on the readers head), I was hoping to find at least some real content in the book. Although I found one or at most two subtle ideas (which I suppose are obvious enough to be borrowed from elsewhere without due reference), I found most of the rest of the book to be mostly gossip type.
I think this book is way overrated.
Unfortunately I couldn't tolerate much further. It could have been better. But it was simply annoying for me. Possibly I'm used to a different type of writing.
Profile Image for Jens.
7 reviews11 followers
August 16, 2021
Well... This book contains huge amount of great and usable information, but one but, and it is a huge but, the author seem to want t convey such a huge amount of examples, to steel man her points that the the actual points gets a little lost in the information.
In my estimation and humble opinion a sort of quick sheet or guide like the Scrum Guide that followed Jeff Sutherland's "Doing Twice the Stuff in Half the Time".
But of you can concentrate on picking out the important points to utilize in your own life and work, this is actually a really good book, with greats points on how to quit your selfdeprecation, victim mentallity and hunker down and do the work to go from failure to succes.
Profile Image for Vikrant Rana.
110 reviews4 followers
August 2, 2018
This book is all over the place. It tries to be a 'tips & tricks', at some point it also tries to be an 'academic explanation' one and at times it tries to be 'self help' book. Abandoned at 17%.
Profile Image for Sabastian Hunt.
37 reviews2 followers
November 17, 2022
Lacked structure and didn't seem very rigorous but otherwise interesting. Insights per page was quite low with this book.
Profile Image for Tony Wang.
18 reviews7 followers
June 13, 2016
As a human, you might feel confident sometimes. Unconfident is a flaw of being, but once we overcome it, our life will get much better. There are plenty of books are about how to build confidence, I have to admit they are work still. But this is a unique book with others; you will find you become a different person if you read it. This book called Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End. The name of this book are pretty simple, but the content will bring you an exceptional experience. Confidence provides fresh thinking about success 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. It plays a vital role in our life. This book involes a variety of situations and provides tips on how to build your confidence. Primarily, this book also provides some tricks, such as psychological hint and how to shift attention. The author used the knowledge of other filed to help the reader; this works better than other books.I think this is an educational book, but it does help a lot of people already.Confidence is one of those traits that can become an ethereal ideal that we all think is good, but ask us to point to the specific reasons why anyone should want it and we can only point to vague hypotheticals.Apparently, this book suits those who are a lack of confidence; they must like it. Certainly, this book could provide help for those want to become more confident.At last, this is a magic book; it can make almost everyone who wants to be confident achieve their dreams, try it now.
Profile Image for Leader Summaries.
375 reviews45 followers
August 4, 2014
Desde Leader Summaries recomendamos la lectura del libro Confianza, de Rossabeth Moss Kanter.
Las personas interesadas en las siguientes temáticas lo encontrarán práctico y útil: liderazgo, características de un buen líder, crecimiento personal y psicología positiva.
En el siguiente enlace tienes el resumen del libro Confianza, Por qué la confianza es clave para el éxito y cómo los líderes pueden promoverla en sus organizaciones: Confianza
Profile Image for John.
282 reviews23 followers
February 25, 2013
This book is practical and inspired. The simple message is confidence, self esteem and commitment will always prevail. Kanter writes clearly, drawing on many relevant examples from business and sports. She lays out the habits for winning and, more importantly, recovering from setbacks. One of the best management books I have ever read.
Profile Image for Chris Wejr.
83 reviews22 followers
March 25, 2014
Reading the first few chapters and the last few make this book an important read. If you enjoy stories or business and sports turnarounds, the middle section is good to emphasize the points about confidence. With all the emphasis on "grit" these days, this book makes you realize that without creating the conditions to build real confidence, there is less chance for resilience and turnarounds.
Profile Image for Hubert.
69 reviews
March 24, 2016
Could this be applied to the stock market of the last 15 years? Sure seems like a loosing streak we're on, especially as of 8/8/2011. Confidence can only be instilled in the markets if leaders are worthy of the confidence bestowed on them. Does that apply to the current leadership on the political side? Don't expect the answer in this book, but many others instead...
Profile Image for Marci Lambert.
289 reviews7 followers
August 4, 2016
This is actually a book full of great information but it's a pretty dry read. Very strong on research but it could use some more compelling storytelling. The focus is on organizational confidence versus personal confidence, but I think I'll be able to apply certain principles to my family life, like making sure my girls have adequate resources and support so they can be confident in their lives.
31 reviews3 followers
June 9, 2008
Not an easy read, but very interesting discussion of streaks - winning and losing, and accompanying team dynamics in a wide range of settings - sports to business.
Profile Image for Andrew.
92 reviews4 followers
July 23, 2008
Team work and accountablity are the key. When everybodies actions are visiable and each person is held responsable for themselves then each person is going to be more willing to do their best.
172 reviews1 follower
March 21, 2012
was not really a fan of it, more of a corporate cultural business book than anything. Wasn't what I was looking for.
Profile Image for R. Mark.
70 reviews1 follower
Want to read
July 28, 2010
this book has done nothing to peak my interest therefore I keep putting it down
Profile Image for Mike Baird.
54 reviews6 followers
March 31, 2017
really enjoyed this... lots of stories of turnarounds, failures, successes. Kind of fell off at the end, but I got lots of good inspiration on how to drive our company and leaders to the next level.
Profile Image for Nihanth.
8 reviews2 followers
April 10, 2017
Confidence: how winning streak and losing streaks begin and end by Rosabeth Moss Kanter explores the intricacies of human being’s behavior to maintain the momentum of an upward winning streaks or the downward losing streak. Kanter emphasizes on the uniqueness of each occurring situation and signifies on the fact that each situation got its own set of challenges and rewards. Then it is very essential for one to rationalize the event with light of available data and information to determine the necessary action to be undertaken. The process could be cold and brutal to take during the downward losses, but it is right at that moment it’s the most effective. During the loss, there are there “softners” that one tells themselves to make themselves feel better. This self-made story of not achieving the best is a mere cover up of the areas that needs to be improved and they soon catch up to cause a greater void. There are number of references to the sports and business psychology relating to the upward momentum. Hence, if your idea of sports is a mere two teams playing against each other to simply win or lose; you will not be able to go through the book.
This book is split in three parts. First part being how confidence grows, second part is how one can create the turnarounds and last part is dedicated to implications and life lessons to take away from these strategies. I have learned few valuable lessons from this book, which I was probably aware of but was not sure how to imply them in real life situations. Kanter makes a good point of complacency creeping in and one needs to have a constant reaffirmation of the process and checks to made all along the winning period of the life. The trained subconscious and being ready to tackle the unknowns are pivotal in thriving in any new environment. To sum it up, this book will provide with techniques of winning and keeping the streaks up that are well proven and tested.
Displaying 1 - 26 of 26 reviews

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