As one part of our broader initiative around inclusion, our community gathered recently for a virtual three-part series that further explored why confidence matters, how it’s built, and the impact it has on individuals and Bridgewater’s overall success. The series featured both external experts and leaders at Bridgewater and concluded with intimate conversations among peers during department-led follow-up sessions. Across the events, a common piece of advice was that confidence is not finite or pre-determined, but that it can be actively developed through calculated risk taking.
To kick off the series, co-authors of the book The Confidence Code, Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, joined us in a discussion moderated by Director of Investment Research Rebecca Patterson. The authors defined confidence as “the stuff that turns thoughts into action.” They explained that confidence is cyclical in nature and to increase confidence through time requires people to “take action that involves a risk, brave or fall into failure, and persevere.” Both Shipman and Kay advised our audience to embrace the most difficult tasks at work because confidence comes from staring difficulty in the face, finding a way through or around it, and then over time, realizing that thing you used to fear is no longer as difficult.
After the first session, Co-CIO Bob Prince, Co-Lead of Equity Research Erin Miles, and Team Lead of Government Research Anser Kazi joined Rebecca on a panel where they reflected on their experiences and challenges with confidence over their careers. During the discussion, the group shared moments when dealing with ambiguity or learning from failure helped them grow their confidence over time. They agreed that Bridgewater’s success depends on appropriately developing confidence in its people, both overconfidence and under confidence can be harmful in different ways — and it’s a critical responsibility of managers to help people find the balance that works for them personally as well as for the broader team. Bob emphasized that, “As an organization, we need to be able to operate in a way where people are able to discover what they are capable of.”
The series concluded with department-led forums in which members of our community discussed the notion of confidence at Bridgewater. Together, they built upon our previous conversations by talking about their own journeys with confidence, leveraging each other for advice, and shaping change.