After 'Pleb Gate', politicians Trust the police about as much as those thieves and drug-dealers who are 'fitted up' (apparently) & the NHS are in a trust crisis, following multiple reports of 'Gagging orders' to cover up poor
UK manufacturing companies are investing in new equipment, because they 'Trust' the signs from the market and reports of a global economic recovery.
What does this tell us?
It tells us, that in positive or negative ways, people act in proportion to the amount of trust they have. This
can be Trust in any given situation, in respect to the treatment they receive from 'systems' and, or, in respect to other people.
Now, situation, system or individual, trust is only apparent when there is mutual honesty and respect.
When Honesty & Respect leads to Trust (HRT), confidence grows and people 'Act'. When confidence goes, at an
organisational or international level we witness major events. Companies fail and economies collapse (as we have all seen when sub-prime lending undermined the trust people previously had in the financial markets around the
In business and in life, we want and need people to take 'Action', or nothing gets done and nothing changes or improves ... if action is a by-product of confidence, it is in our own best interests as leaders to be
able to understand and define 'Confidence', isn't it?
The dictionary says Confidence is;
"the feeling or belief that one can have faith in, or rely on, someone or something"
There are key words in there, and they are the words, 'Feeling'... & ... 'Belief / faith'. When we look at it a little deeper, we discover that confidence is a feeling! (Which will be relative to our deeply imprinted beliefs in respect to what is 'good' or 'bad', 'right' or 'wrong').
Now regular readers of this blog will know that a feeling (an emotion) is an output from a very complex neurological electro-chemical process that happens in the brain.
On the assumption that the brain is constantly active in various ways in response to various conditions, bridging fully awake to deep sleep, it seems reasonable to me to suggest that if there isn't an electro-chemical state of confidence in the brain, and there can't be a void, then there has to be something else.
It's a bit 'Yin and Yang', up and down, left and right; it's a dualistic thing, to 'dumb it down' a little, we might even suggest it's a positive and negative thing. If 'confidence' is seen as a positive set of neurological conditions (triggered by our sense fed perceptions and supported by 'feel good' chemicals like dopamine), then, on the premise that there is no such thing as a 'Void' in the neurological 'electro-chemical' construct of the brain (ignoring infrastructure like Fossa / Pia / Dura cavities etc.), then there must also be a 'negative' state in the absence of a positive state, or in the absence of any particular 'good' or 'bad' stimulus, a neutral state.
So what might be the opposite of confidence at this chemical neurological level? I'd suggest a negative feeling (Emotion utilising different chemicals like norepinephrine, noradrenaline etc.) is 'Fear'. When we're not confident, we are worried, (or stressed) and it's said that worry is 'a sustained form of fear caused by indecision'. So it makes some sense to put that inability to decide on the opposite side of the fence from 'confidence', if we accept confidence as a neuro-state which allows us to make decisions and take actions.
On that basis, there is a direct connection between the action we feel confident enough to take and the level of fear we feel which inhibits action. The more we are treated with a lack of honesty and respect, the less confident we feel, the more anxious and fearful we are and the less we are able to act... and therefore the less likely we are to 'change' ourselves, or pursue change to improve our organisations, which requires 'new' actions. (Where anything 'New' is also a threat before it is proven not to be, as part of our defence mechanisms).
From a leaders perspective, the negative impact on politics, production, patient care and policing (i.e. on organisational reputation and performance) are all too evident in the absence of trust, as can be seen from the headlines today.
The trick as a leader is to create conditions in which people are psychologically and neurologically empowered to act. To create those conditions, leaders essentially need to understand what causes people to act with either a fear or confidence bias, and, especially how their organisational control systems can reduce perceptions of honesty and respect, which in turn undermine performance.
I admit, it is a very complicated way of looking at P&L (profit and loss), however, in the world as it exists today, it's also incredibly exciting and encouraging for organisations looking to improve their performance at this human level, because the knowledge leaders need, to get the real competitive advantage this level of understanding provides is out there just waiting to be understood.