Built to Perform? Unlocking the DNA Of A Winning Culture

The Barcelona Way, Damian’s book on the DNA of a winning culture, covers the methodology and philosophy behind FC Barcelona’s approach to teamwork. To give you a glimpse of what to expect from the event, let’s take a look at some of his core principles and how they can be applied to your hiring process.

Recognise actual engagement

Damian places a huge emphasis on the behaviour of individuals when they don’t know they’re being observed.

In his first season as FC Barcelona’s manager, Pep Guardiola took note of the body language and expression of players on the bench during a near-goal which would have put them in the lead. While some players stood with heightened anticipation, Guardiola noticed that others remained seated and straight-faced. This disinterest in the game, Damian argues, stemmed from their frustration of not being included in the starting line-up. By the following summer, all those indifferent players had left the club.

The same principle applies in the workplace. Your company’s culture reflects the behaviour of all stakeholders. You need to ensure that everyone feels engaged with your aims and objectives. This goes right back to the hiring process: if your company doesn’t have clear values, how can you expect to attract team players to the business?

Establish a bigger picture

Damian highlights the importance of identifying a direction in which everyone can move towards.

Outlining a vision unifies your team in their approach, while keeping them engaged. FC Barcelona and Catalan’s identities, for example, have become synonymous. Barcelona FC is now as much a part of fans’ nationalities as being a citizen of Catalan.

‘Més que un club’ (more than a club) is their motto for a reason: it resonates with all staff, not just the players in any one match. This is their culture – the ability to engage all stakeholders through associating a single aim with a wider purpose. It demonstrates the idea that the team is more than what we do, it’s who we are.

Businesses that have a vision are similarly likely to attract higher performers. Understand the big picture and act with purpose. Invest in the wider community and give your team opportunities for self-development; industry talent will take notice.

Nurture teamwork, not talent

If you have star talent that undeniably carries your department at times, it’s important that you reward them. But you should never encourage an environment where the team is worth less than its members.

Damian references the press conference in which Pep Guardiola was first unveiled as head coach. At the time, he was asked about his three most successful players: Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto’o. Guardiola surprised reporters by stating that they “are not in my mind for the future”.

Why? Because he established a firm standard of teamwork. He wanted the most talented members of the team to be involved in rebuilding the club. More importantly, he wanted them to understand that, individually, they were worth less than when they engaged as a team. Within one year, all three players had left the squad.

Again, this lesson applies to business. A ‘winning culture’ requires full engagement from all stakeholders – and nothing dismantles that image more than only rewarding individualism in the workplace.

Join us and create your own winning culture

When facing skill shortages and uncertain economic times, it’s important to attract and retain the best talent. By differentiating yourself through a winning culture, the chances of gaining not just star players, but building a victorious team, dramatically increase.

Interested in hearing more from Professor Hughes? Simply get in touch with Steven Jagger at to register your interest and gain further details.

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