Winning streaks are empowering. People feel in control of their game, and, in turn, they are more likely to be handed control. An expectation of continued winning gives decision makers and resource allocators confidence that people can handle responsibility, deserve to know the facts, attract the best talent, benefit from training, pull together as a group without depending excessively on stars—and produce those wins. This confidence means that winners get the power of continuity and self-determination.
The logic is obvious. Losing? Throw the bums out—or control their every move. Winning? Thank them and leave them alone. For winners, that logic sets a few more stones in place to support the success spiral that helps winners keep winning.Winning streaks give people the room and the security to define their own terms and determine their own fate. A history of high performance increases the confidence of authority figures, resource allocators, watchdogs, auditors, regulators, and opinion leaders.
Such confidence on the part of these “controllers” translates into more security for the players and leaders. People are given the luxury of coming and going as they choose, and they often choose to stay. The top person is more likely to be on a longer-term contract. It can even be easier to keep the number-two person, the one whom everyone else wants to steal to take their number-one slot, because some people would rather stick with the secure and growing rewards of a winning team. During the upward cycle of success, everyone experiences more continuity, fewer disruptions, less of the start-over-again turmoil of turnover.
That further reinforces the ability to forge close bonds that release the chemistry of success. Instead of always having to adjust to new relationships, winners can enjoy deepening the ones they have. Even on college sports teams that by definition turn over with every graduating class, there are continuity effects. Star college players destined for professional sports are more likely to stay through graduation when their team is winning than when it’s losing; the University of Miami’s football team had its highest attrition of players before graduation during the only period when the team lost.
Continuity of people is associated with continuity of strategy—that is, smoother, less disruptive improvements rather than vacillation or lurches from one idea to another. The track record of leaders of winning streaks breeds confidence in committing to a plan and sticking with it. Continuity breeds faith during adversity, as it did for Garanti Bank—there will be time, we’ll get through this, the plan is a good one. At the same time, when people feel secure, they are more likely to improve upon the plan rather than mindlessly follow a script. This is a human pattern that starts soon after birth; it’s been found that infants who feel more secure engage in more exploratory behavior. Having a general strategy and not abandoning it in a spate of self-doubt provides steadiness; tinkering with it and adding new twists ensures that competitors can’t always predict what will happen.
Success also breeds confidence in the ability of people to manage themselves. Resources and support are provided with fewer strings. Owners, boards of directors, key officials, bosses, parents—whoever is in a position to give or withhold power—are more likely to endorse the organization’s direction and less likely to micromanage.