High performing teams. What can we learn from sport?

Blog Post
Posting date: 30 April 2024

No matter of the industry, each team has to perform together to achieve success. Barcelona could work as a great example, especially under the leadership of Pep Guardiola from 2008 to 2012. They won 14 out of 19 possible trophies in four seasons.

Some might say times have changed since that period (correct)…some could mention other teams great years, for example, Read Madrid (correct).

My aim is to share a few key lessons, based on Pep Guardiola’s leadership, proved also in other great clubs. Hope to provoke discussion how to build strong grounds for high performing teams in other sectors, for example, sales/recruitment, closest to me for many years.

So, what are the key aspects to learn from Pep Guardiola’s highly successful team?

Big picture

Which team would not say their goal is to be successful? What differentiates good teams from great teams is the execution of the plan and commitment from every individual.

The backbone of Barcelona culture was based on the three points: humility, hard work, team player.

A strong example….after the first year of Pep’s work as a head coach, he resigned from the players sitting in the bench who were not reacting to the game events (if the team missed a clear chance for goal, some of the bench players ignored such situations, showing no emotional link).

In business it’s about cultivating a culture of collaboration, setting clear goals, and leveraging individual strengths to achieve collective success. In sales, recruitment or other areas.

Trust is the glue that bonds each team together. The collective commitment fuels and uplifts the rest, providing support along the way. Being bold requires bold actions from every single individual contributing to the team moving forward.


In creating purpose, there are three questions that need to be addressed. The most important question is “Why”, accompanied with “How” and What”. Sounds as really basic stuff, but these basic elements are key to creating and developing a winning culture, especially in tougher market conditions. Teams where everyone acts as one, where each individual is both respected and trusted, will always find a way.

Just as Guardiola meticulously selected players who could enhance the team’s performance, business leaders should recruit and retain those who can actively contribute to company strategies and overall success.

This article is based on the book I can recommend for all leaders. No matter if you are into football or not. If you like FC Barcelona or not. It is about how to encourage the development of a team. The source: The Barcelona Way, How to Create a High Performing Culture, Prof. Damian Hughes.

Big picture, based on Barcelona example, leads us to the next steps of creating high performing teams – the power of system and process, which I would like to give a brief overview in my next article soon.