What is self-efficacy? Why is it important and how do we cultivate it?

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As a leader it is important to understand your followers. One aspect that is particularly important is self-efficacy, in other words, the “can do” facet of personality.

Self-efficacy is defined as one’s belief in his or her own capacity to perform a task (Greenberg, 2005; Locke, 2004). Research has shown it is important because it is a good predictor of people’s work behavior (Bandura & Locke, 2003). For example, self-efficacy has been tied to higher performance ratings and task accomplishment (Greenberg, 2005; Locke, 2004). In addition, it has been found that unemployed people who are trained in ways of enhancing their self-efficacy perception were more likely to look for jobs and therefore, more likely to find jobs (Eden & Aviram, 1993).

Now that you have caught a glimpse of how important self-efficacy can be. I would like draw from Bandura’s (2004) work to show you how to cultivate self-efficacy in your followers and or employees.

1.) Guided mastery: Provides one of the most effective ways of cultivating competencies. This method produces the best gains in both self-efficacy and skill because it combines three components (Bandura, 1986). First, the appropriate skills are modeled to convey the basic rules and strategies. Second, the learners receive guided practice under simulated conditions to develop proficiency in the skills. Third, they are provided with a graduated transfer program that helps them apply their newly learned skills in work situations in ways that will bring them success and goal attainment. One caveat to this approach is that it is only as good as it’s execution.

2.) Cognitive mastery modeling: A great deal of work today involves making judgments and finding solutions to problems by drawing on one’s knowledge, constructing new knowledge, and applying decision making. People can learn thinking skills and how to apply them by observing decision rules and reasoning strategy models.

3.) Cultivation of self-regulatory competencies: Self-management is exercised through a variety of interlinked self-referent processes including self-monitoring, self-efficacy appraisal, personal goal-setting, and an enlistment of motivating incentives (Bandura, 1986, 1991; Locke, 2004; Locke & Latham, 1990). Knowledge of how these various sub-functions of self-regulation operate provide a guide on how to develop this capacity.

In sum, to keep up with a world that is rapidly changing, people have to develop, upgrade, and reform their competencies in continual self-renewal. My hope is that as a leader you can understand the importance of self-efficacy in your followers and also in yourself.


Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Bandura, A. (1991). Self-regulation of motivation through anticipatory and self-regulatory mechanisms. In R.A. Dienstbier (eds.), Perspectives on motivation: Nebraska symposium on motivation (Vol. 38, pp. 69-164). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Bandura (2004). Cultivate self-efficacy for personal and organizational effectiveness. In Locke, E. A. Handbook of principles of organizational behavior. (pp.120-136). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Bandura, A., & Locke, E.A. (2003). Negative self-efficacy and goal effects revisited. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 87-99.

Eden, D., & Aviram, A. (1993). Self-efficacy training to speed reemployment: Helping people to help themselves. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 352-360.

Greenberg, J. (2005). Managing behavior in organizations. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Image: http://adhyatmablog.com/individual-lead-spiritual-life-without-performing-ceremonies-rituals/#.U8RCd5SwJcQ

Locke, E. A. (2004). Handbook of principles of organizational behavior. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Locke, E.A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.



4 thoughts on “What is self-efficacy? Why is it important and how do we cultivate it?

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