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December 04, 2014

Six Qualities of a Championship Team: The 6 C’s

Sometimes, when looking outside of our own industry, we discover new perspectives or wisdom that can be applied within our own professional world. In this case, when looking at the topic of workplace teams, it’s a natural to examine and borrow some wisdom from the world of sports, where the strength of a team’s performance is routinely put to the test.

Legendary football player and coach Vince Lombardi, whose name was given to the NFL Superbowl trophy, once said that “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” In addition to Commitment, I’ve gleaned five other key qualities that seem to define championship sports teams throughout the decades.

These six qualities, when applied to workplace teams, can also make for championship performance at your organization:

1. Common Goal: Championship teams share a common goal. Sounds like a given, right? But many teams may take this for granted, and assume that there’s complete understanding and alignment. Building clarity and understanding around the common goal is critical. Be intentional and ensure that every team member clearly understands the goal and its implications and meaning for them. What is their role in achieving it? All members must be completely aligned on creating one particular future.

2. Commitment: Each team member must commit themselves to the achievement of the common goal. Additionally, they have to commit to the team itself, such that they care just as much about each other as for themselves. Other important elements involve the commitment to listen fully, and to be actively involved, engaged and inclusive.

3. Complementary Roles: Championship teams look closely at roles and how they interact with each other, understanding that each role contributes to a synergistic whole that should be greater than the sum of its parts.

4. Clear Communication: It’s important that a championship team values clear and open communication, encouraging each member to speak honestly. Team members must also give weight to their words, understanding that they need to deliver on commitments made to the team.

5. Constructive Conflict: Team members must be willing to speak up and hold each other accountable, while being held accountable themselves. These interactions may create tension at times, but as long as the good of the team is held paramount, the temporary conflict will only strengthen the resolve and integrity of its members.

6. Cohesion: The team must feel connected. Championship teams take the time to connect off the court, as well as acknowledge and celebrate each other’s and the team’s successes.


  • Championship sports teams can teach us something about the characteristics of high performing teams, which can be applied to our organizations and communities to yield greater success and bigger impact
  • The ‘Six Cs’ represent six critical qualities for a championship team: Common Goal; Commitment; Complementary Roles; Clear Communication; Constructive Conflict; Cohesion

Try This Out

  • Using a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 as the highest), have each team member rate the overall team on how well it embodies each of the six qualities. Share and discuss.
  • Have team members switch roles for a day to gain further understanding and appreciation for everyone’s contributions. Or, if this isn’t practical, have each person learn about and then explain the role of one of their team members
  • Ask each team member to voice what they are committed to. Use this as a launching pad to discuss levels of commitment around the team’s common goal

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