Leaders have created a foundation for confidence that permits unexpected people to achieve high levels of performance, and to do it as part of a successful team. Each time the team or the organization wins a victory, support for confidence is increased. An occasional win turns into a long winning streak. Winning begets winning, because it produces confidence at four levels.

Winning feels good, and good moods are contagious. Success makes it easier to view events in a positive light, to generate optimism. It produces energy and promotes morale. It is easier to aim high and expect to reach the target. It is easier to find the energy to work hard because it looks as if the hard work will pay off. These attitudes reinforce top performance.

Winning makes people feel more engaged with their tasks and with one another. It makes people like one another more, want to spend more time together, feel more generous, and therefore want to practice, prepare, and help one another succeed. It breeds respect, which then makes people more willing to take responsibility and admit mistakes, because they feel secure. These behaviors make it more likely that problems will be caught and solved, because people share information, take responsibility and admit mistakes, pull together and find solutions.

Winning makes it likely to turn informal tendencies into formal traditions, by building winners’ habits of responsibility, teamwork, and initiative into routines, processes, and practices that encourage and perpetuate them. It makes it more likely that leaders will remain in place so that there can be continuity of strategy and approach, institutionalizing systems for producing winners’ behavior. Winning provides the resources for investing in training and tools to ensure that people can be responsible members of the team. This makes it possible to transmit problem-solving and team-enhancing behavior to new people and, thus, to keep the winning streak going.

Winning makes it easier to attract financial backers, loyal customers, enthusiastic fans, talented recruits, media attention, opinion leader support, and political goodwill. Continuing to win stimulates this network to grow in size, scope, and magnitude of investment. Having a flow of valuable resources from the network makes it easier to invest internally in conditions associated with victory, including facilities and staff. And knowledge on the part of the team that there is external support for winning circles back to fuel positive expectations, further strengthening the cycle of success.

At each level—emotional, behavioral, organizational, environmental—confidence both feeds winning and feeds off of it. Momentum builds because each success in a sequence of successes makes it easier to generate self-confidence, confidence in colleagues, confidence in the system, and investor confidence. All those aspects of confidence converge to prepare the people who must deliver victory on the field, even if the team is a different set of people each year. Winning becomes an ingrained tradition, embedded in the culture and supported by powerful external networks, even if individual talent comes and goes.