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How to Develop Self-Efficacy? Tips that lead to Confidence in the Workplace

Updated on September 24, 2014

Albert Bandura

While other organizational behavior scholars touched on aspects of self-confidence in individuals, Albert Bandura of Stanford University was the first to introduce a comprehensive framework of how individuals develop confidence (or as he labeled it self-efficacy). This hub highlights key components of self-efficacy as introduced by Bandura in 1982.

Self-Efficacy Defined

Bandura defined self-efficacy as the extent to which an individual has confidence that he or she has the ability to accomplish a given task. This confidence varies depending on the individual's experience level and the context. Bandura noted four avenues for developing self-efficacy including:

  1. Previous accomplishment in the activity (also known as extant mastery)
  2. Vicarious observation of a skilled and respected other
  3. Persuasion by a respected other
  4. Absence of physiological and/or psychological restraints

Previous Success and Accomplishment

Bandura observed that the first and strongest avenue to development of self-efficacy (self-confidence) is actually mastery of the task or job description. It is as the old adage describes: there is no greater teacher than experience. As individuals engage in activities and are successful in those activities so they grow in their confidence to perform and accomplish those activities.

For instance, the first time I attempted to put together a TV stand, I had no clue how to do it and it took me over four hours. The more opportunities I had to put together TV stands the more experience I gained and the more I gained in confidence. In the end I could put the same stand together in less than one hour. Extant mastery leads to deeper levels of personal confidence.

This was also true when I was a salesperson for the old Circuit City Stores. In the beginning I was a bit apprehensive, but as I worked with customers and gained more experience I became more confident. I soon was winning trips to the annual sales award dinners.

Anthony Robbins

Vicarious Observation of a Skilled and Respected Other

The second way individuals develop self-efficacy is by vicarious observation of a skilled and respected other. Inspirational speaker and peak performance guru Anthony Robbins made a fortune by coaching clients on how to short circuit the rise from novice to mastery by learning from the mistakes and successes of others who had risen to the top of a field of interest.

Mentorship is a great way to avoid unnecessary pitfalls and skip ahead of the learning curve. Seeking out quality mentors who have themselves accomplished much in your chosen field can help you learn the ropes quickly and gain much needed confidence or self-efficacy in your chosen field. Reading books by experts in the field can also help circumvent the learning curve. This takes a heart that is teachable and willing to listen to the advice of others.

Persuasion by a Respected Other

Bandura identified the third means of fostering growth in self-efficacy as persuasion by a respected other. A person given a new position with unfamiliar job description may lack confidence to fulfill the requirements of that new position. An apt word from a respected other could enhance that person's confidence and emboldened him to rise to the occasion.

This means to surround yourself with those who believe in your abilities, but are not afraid to kick you in the rear or slap your face to get you motivated. Those who want to succeed to their highest potential do not merely surround themselves with yes men. They want those who can speak the truth in love as well as speak motivating words of positive belief.

Physiological and/or Psychological Arousal

Self-efficacy can also be tied to physiological and psychological either positive or negative arousal. When I was 18 I hated speaking in public. I would halt and stammer and lose trains of thought. The psychological pre-conditions in my mind led to physiological faltering. However, after making a concerted effort to take every chance to speak or read aloud, the psychological obstacles were overcome and speaking became more fluid.


Context is another important link to self-efficacy. Just about everyone has at least one area of expertise within which they out shine others. Just because a person is unable to function in one area doesn't mean they lack value in others. Finding the right context could make the difference between irrational fear and command and control.


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    • ecoggins profile image

      ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California

      KirkB, Thank you for your encouraging feedback. I appreciate it very much.

    • KirkB profile image

      KirkB 6 years ago from Winnipeg

      Very important for new hires. I would hope most leaders would keep your key points in mind so that they are consciously building the confidence of their younger employees. Very good. Thanks