I think I can, I know I can! Self Efficacy and the Value of Self Belief

Albert Bandura

We seem to spend an awful lot of time talking and thinking about development.

Developing as a human being involves taking responsibility for ourselves, gaining focus and determining that we want to live a life of some purpose.  We have dreams, and we develop and work towards goals.

A key factor in whether we achieve our goals is the development of self-efficacy. 

Self- efficacy is a term used in psychology and it roughly corresponds to a person’s belief in their own competence. It is believed that our ideas of self-efficacy affect our social interactions in almost every way.

Understanding how to foster the development of self-efficacy is vitally important because it can lead to living a more productive and happy life.

Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations.

One’s sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges. According to Bandura, people who believe they can perform well, are more likely to view difficult tasks as something to be mastered rather than something to be avoided.

Bandura points to four sources affecting self-efficacy;

Experience – success raises self-efficacy, failure lowers it.

Modelling – “If they can do it, I can do it too!” When people see someone succeeding at something, their self-efficacy will increase; and where they see people failing, their self-efficacy will decrease.

Social Persuasions – encouragement/discouragement – most people remember times where something said to them significantly altered their confidence.

Physiological Factors – In unusual and stressful situations, people commonly exhibit signs of distress. A person’s perceptions of this, can markedly alter a person’s self-efficacy. If a person gets ‘butterflies in the stomach’ before public speaking, those with low self-efficacy may take this as a sign of their own inability, while those with high self-efficacy are likely to take these signs as normal and unrelated to their actual ability. Thus, a belief in the implications of the physiological response alters self-efficacy

The implications of self-efficacy for us as leaders and managers are enormous. We are all searching for ways to help people learn more effectively and be more productive.

By understanding how to help influence people to develop a positive mental assessment of their abilities, it is possible for us to create work environments that provide the necessary feedback and support for individuals. This should allow more people to develop high levels of self-efficacy that will translate into increased productivity.

Also, the stress of life can be at times intolerable, but those with high self-efficacy seem to be more able to live stress-free lives that are rewarding and happy.

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 .