Series on Confidence Building – Identifying the Challenge

Lack of confidence can stem from various factors. Even an able and proven professional can often come across situations where he finds himself lost and with no confidence to move forward. It is to identify the challenge that you are facing accurately and take the necessary steps to recover.

In 2010, Mark Angelo, was asked by the CEO of Hospital for Special Surgery in New York to create and implement a program to improve quality and efficiency. Mark was relatively new to the organization. He had worked as a business fellow for the previous year but had recently taken on the role of director of operations and service lines. Even though he had background in operations strategy from his days as a management consultant, he was not familiar with the Lean/Six Sigma principles he’d need to use for this project and didn’t feel equipped to build the program from scratch. He was particularly concerned he wouldn’t be able to gain the necessary support from the hospital’s physicians and nurses. What would they think of a young administrator with no hospital experience telling them how to improve quality and increase efficiency?

For five months, Mark struggled to get the project on track and his confidence suffered. He knew that his apprehension was in part due to his lack of knowledge of Six Sigma. He read a number of books and articles on the subject, talked to consulting firms that specialized in it, and spoke with hospitals that had been successful in developing and implementing similar programs. This helped but he realized he still didn’t know if he would be able to get the necessary people on board. “I was anxious and stressed because I had no idea how I was going to transform the organization. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. It was going to take a collective effort that included our management team and all of our staff,” he said.

He talked with the CEO who had supported him since the beginning. He also looked to his family for emotional support. Through these conversations he realized that his anxiety stemmed from a desire to be liked by his colleagues and therefore to avoid conflict. “After many discussions with my CEO and observing how he handled these situations, I learned that it is better to strive to be well-respected than well-liked,” he said.

This was a turning point for Mark. Instead of worrying so much about what others thought of him, he focused on doing what was best for the patient and the institution. In December, he presented the vision for the program to the entire medical staff. While he was nervous about how it would be received, he knew this was a critical moment. “I was able to get up in front of one our toughest constituencies and present the vision that we had been developing over the past few months,” he says. His presentation was met with applause. “In the end, my confidence grew by leaps and bounds and we were able to design a program that has since taken off with great success across the hospital. I was able to overcome my mental blocks and knowledge deficits to build a program that will truly help transform how we approach performance improvement and patient care,” he says.

Source: Harvard Business Review, Amy Gallo