As Alexander the Great once said, “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” A recent study in Belgium demonstrated the impact of a leader’s confidence in their team on the team’s confidence and performance of their teammates. 144 teenaged male soccer players were grouped into previously unassigned teams of four.

The researchers manipulated the team confidence expressed by the team leader (high vs. neutral vs. low) and assessed team members’ responses and performance as they unfolded during a competition. They found that when the team leaders’ confidence was high, players were more confident in the team’s ability (“us”) to win. They also found that sports performance was better in these teams and that the members of the team identified better as a member of the team.

This study proves the integral nature of leader confidence, including having an uplifting influence on team members’ confidence, better sense of “us,” and increased performance. (The inverse is starkly true as well; poor leadership confidence equals poor results.) The researchers concluded that articulating a belief that “we will be champions,” biases the team towards success!

We will be champions: Leaders’ confidence in ‘us’ inspires team members’ team confidence and performance. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2015. K. Fransen N. K. Steffens, S. A. Haslam, N. Vanbeselaere, G. Vande Broek, F. Boen


Wendy Winn , PT, OCS Director