Leader Self-Efficacy Beliefs Determine Impact of Challenging Work Assignments

Stephen Courtright

Stephen Courtright

“High potential” employees are often given “stretch assignments” to expand their organizational knowledge, skills, and contacts.

Amy Colbert

Amy Colbert

The individual’s “leadership self-efficacy (LSE)” expectations about personal capability to master the challenge and deliver “successful” outcomes determine the actual results, reported Texas A&M’s Stephen H. Courtright, Amy E. Colbert of University of Iowa, and Daejeong Choi of University of Melbourne in their four month study of more than 150 managers and 600 directors at a Fortune 500 financial services company.

Daejeong Choi

Daejeong Choi

Individuals develop self efficacy, according to Stanford’s Albert Bandura, in response to individuals’:

  • Personal accomplishments and mastery
  • Observing others’ behaviors, experiences, and outcomes
  •  Corrective feedback from others via coaching and mentoring
  • Mood and physiological factors
Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura

Bandura posited that people’s expectations about their personal efficacy determines whether they:

  • Use coping behavior when encountering difficulties
  • Apply exceptional effort in meeting challenges
  • Persist for long periods when encountering difficult experiences and obstacles

These behaviors lead to the “virtuous cycle” of increased self-efficacy beliefs and expectations.

Laura Paglis Dwyer

Laura Paglis Dwyer

A measure of leadership self-efficacy (LSE), developed by University of Evansville’s Laura L. Paglis Dwyer and Stephen G. Green of Purdue University, evaluates a leader’s skill in:

  • Direction-setting
  • Gaining followers’ commitment
  • Overcoming obstacles to change
Sean Hanna

Sean Hanna

Two additional Leader Self Efficacy characteristics were proposed by United States Military Academy’s Sean T. Hannah with Bruce Avolio, Fred Luthans, and Peter D. Harms of University of Nebraska:

  • “Agency,” characterized by intentionally initiating action and exerting positive influence
  • Confidence
Jesus Tanguma

Jesus Tanguma

Women generally demonstrated significantly lower leadership self-efficacy beliefs than men in research by University of Houston’s Michael J. McCormick
, Jesús Tanguma
, and Anita Sohn López-Forment, and a related post reviews women’s lag in expressions of “confidence,” with consequences for women’s representation in executive leadership roles.

However, Bandura found that these beliefs can be modified with intentional interventions like training, coaching, mentoring and cognitive restructuring practice, and the proliferation of these offerings for women provides these opportunities to enhance confidence and positive expectancy.

Courtright’s team reinforced popular understanding that beliefs both result from previous experiences, and can determine future outcomes, suggesting the importance of monitoring and managing these guiding ideas.

-*How do you maintain robust Leadership Self-Efficacy expectations even after disappointments and setbacks?

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One thought on “Leader Self-Efficacy Beliefs Determine Impact of Challenging Work Assignments

  1. kathrynwelds Post author

    Zac Reichert writes:
    Been loving reading your articles you post, especially the one on leader self efficacy- so applicable in helping organizations up their game.

    Kathryn responds:
    Thanks, Zac, for your comment, and would love to learn how you’ve seen leader self-efficacy enable the organizations you’ve been in.


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