Every field has organizations that assemble long strings of successes, while others seem stuck in endless failure. Harvard business professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter says both are caused by the same force. ln Confidence (Crown, $27.50), the renowned management writer says some people and groups succeed not because they're more talented, but largely because their leaders give them the confidence to rise to the challenge.
In Kanter's view, confidence rests on three pillars: accountability, collaboration and initiative. Accountability comes from setting high internal standards and pursuing them whatever the cost. Collaboration begins with reaching out yourself, then encouraging others to do the same. Initiative gets going when you present your people with achievable steps, then insist on action.
Most of Kanter's business examples are big firms, and she says instilling confidence usually requires new leadership at the top. But even if her answers don't fit all entrepreneurs, she raises worthwhile questions about what it takes to win over the long haul.
Years of playing quake and simcity have created a new wave of employees and executives very different from those who grew up playing kick the can and touch football, according to John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade. In Got Game (HBS Press, $27.50), these authors say video gamers are better at group communication, creative problem solving and risk taking than nongamers. Gamers aren't necessarily better employees overall, they say. But if you employ any of the tens of millions of people who grew up during gaming's ascendancy, you can use this information to manage them by, for instance, understanding that gamers would rather be leaders than followers.
Mark Henricks is Entrepreneur's "Smart Moves" columnist.