Confidence, which falls about midway between despair and arrogance, is essential to personal success and an important tool in organizational excellence. And it is up to leaders to build that confidence by combining “bold strokes” that have an immediate (though sometimes transient) impact with the initiation of a “long march” for more permanent changes. This is especially important in turnaround situations. Start by fixing what people see every day. This is a small and simple step that creates a good mood and positive behaviors. It can include cleaning up the work environment and solving minor annoyances. Also, it is a small win that lends support to your credibility. Confidence and winning streaks are built through small wins. Then, instead of holding out a reward until certain results are achieved, invest in people up front to show them they’re worth it. Tactics like these send a strong message that you think the organization merits the investment and serves to instantly boost organizational confidence. Just the slightest glimmers of confidence in losing organizations can get the ball rolling.

HBS Working Knowledge 13 Dec 2004