The three C’s – Character, Competence, and Chemistry – are widely considered to be the most important factors in building a successful team. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Character refers to the personality traits and values that make up each individual team member. When assembling a team, you want to ensure each person demonstrates strong character through traits like:
- Integrity – being honest and ethical
- Responsibility – following through on commitments
- Flexibility – adapting to change and new ideas
- Collaboration – working together toward shared goals
- Dedication – commitment to the team and its work
Team members with strong character understand that their actions impact the rest of the team. They tend to put the shared interests of the team ahead of their individual interests. Their values and work ethic set the tone and help establish norms for the entire team culture.
Why is character important?
Character is the foundation for building trust between team members. Without trust, teams lack cohesion and are unable to work together effectively. Team members who display strong character foster an environment where people feel comfortable collaborating and communicating openly. When all team members have strong character, the team is poised for greater cooperation, engagement, and success.
Competence refers to each individual team member’s skills, abilities, and expertise. The most effective teams comprise members with complementary competencies that allow them to achieve team goals.
When building a competent team, aim to include members with:
- Technical skills and expertise related to the work
- Problem-solving abilities
- Planning and project management skills
- Interpersonal skills like communication and active listening
- Decision-making capabilities
Team members should have distinct but overlapping competencies. You want specialists with deep expertise in certain areas as well as generalists with wide-ranging abilities. This diversity of proficiencies enables teams to effectively tackle complex projects and challenges.
Why is competence important?
Competence ensures your team collectively has the required abilities and expertise to successfully accomplish its goals. Competent teams are able to execute on strategy and deliver results. Team members who are highly competent also inspire confidence in their teammates. When you know your team members have the skills to get the job done right, you can take on more challenging work and push for greater impact.
Chemistry refers to the interpersonal dynamic and emotional intelligence between team members. Teams with good chemistry have rapport, connect on a personal level, and genuinely like being around each other.
Some signs of positive team chemistry include:
- Open communication and active listening between members
- Friendliness and sociability among the group
- Respecting each member’s differences and perspectives
- Giving and receiving constructive feedback
- Comfort with discussing problems or disagreements
- Enjoying casual interactions and humor
Team chemistry develops through shared experiences and trust built over time. It can be strengthened through team building activities, social events, and day-to-day interactions.
Why is chemistry important?
Chemistry allows teams to collaborate smoothly and effectively. Team members who have good chemistry are more comfortable communicating and working interdependently. They are able to engage in healthy debate and challenge each other respectfully when problem-solving. Teams with strong chemistry also spend less time on conflict management, as they have effective working relationships.
Putting the 3 C’s Together
While character, competence, and chemistry each have individual importance, it is the combination of strengths in all three areas that enables elite teamwork. Let’s explore why.
Character and Competence
Character and competence are complementary. Competent team members who lack character can engage in self-serving behaviors that undermine the team. On the flip side, team members with character but no competence will be unable to effectively contribute to the team. When both character and competence are present, team members use their abilities to advance shared goals.
Competence and Chemistry
Competence and chemistry are interdependent. Chemistry emerges when competent people like and respect each other. Yet positive chemistry also enhances competence, as team members are more collaborative and communicative when they have good working relationships. Competence and chemistry reinforce one another.
Character and Chemistry
Character and chemistry share a bidirectional relationship. Team members with character tend to foster an open, trusting team environment that builds chemistry. In turn, positive chemistry deepens trust and cooperation between members with strong character. The two enhance each other.
The Power of All 3 C’s
With the trio of character, competence, and chemistry, teams unlock their highest potential. Team members feel empowered and motivated to take on bold challenges, engage in constructive debate, provide mutual support, and deliver exceptional results.
The interplay between character, competence, and chemistry creates an environment of trust, growth, and achievement. But it takes intention and work to develop teams with strengths across all three dimensions.
How to Build Teams with Character, Competence, and Chemistry
Here are some best practices for assembling and developing teams with strong character, competence and chemistry:
Set clear guidelines and expectations
Establish guiding principles, values, and ground rules that set norms for character and ethics. Define goals, roles, responsibilities, processes, and success metrics to cultivate competence.
Hire for culture fit
When recruiting, emphasize personality, values, and work styles in addition to skills and experience. Seek candidates whose character and working preferences align with the team culture.
Promote diversity and inclusion
Build teams with complementary strengths and diverse perspectives. Make sure everyone feels respected, valued, and heard to facilitate chemistry.
Invest in training and development
Provide coaching and learning opportunities to help team members improve skills, handle challenges, and work together effectively.
Facilitate shared experiences
Bring team members together regularly through meetings, collaboration sessions, social events, and activities. Shared experiences build relationships and chemistry.
Empower the team
Involve the team in goal-setting, planning, and decision-making. Enable members to exercise their competencies autonomously while collaborating effectively.
Acknowledge both individual and collective accomplishments. Celebrate wins and milestones to reinforce team identity and chemistry.
Manage conflicts promptly
Address disagreements, performance issues, and interpersonal problems through open and constructive discussion. Maintain trust.
Reflect on team successes and failures to identify opportunities for greater cohesion, competence and impact. Adjust strategies and processes accordingly.
Problems That Arise from Weak Character, Competence, or Chemistry
When one or more of the three C’s is lacking in a team, various challenges ensue:
Examples of Problems with Poor Character:
- Lack of integrity erodes trust
- Irresponsibility leads to missed deadlines or poor work quality
- Selfishness and individualistic behavior undermine team cohesion
- Uncollaborative attitudes prevent unity and effective coordination
- Unethical actions damage team reputation and performance
Examples of Problems with Inadequate Competence:
- Skills gaps lead to low-quality outputs
- Too few specialists results in knowledge limitations
- Poor planners struggle to coordinate complex projects
- Ineffective communicators create misunderstandings
- Weak decision-makers cause analysis paralysis
Examples of Problems with Poor Chemistry:
- Interpersonal tensions and conflicts
- Lack of cooperation and siloed work
- Disengaged team members with low motivation
- Reluctance to share information or collaborate
- Exclusion of individuals with different working styles or perspectives
How to Improve Character, Competence, and Chemistry
Fortunately, teams can take steps to boost character, competence, and chemistry over time through targeted interventions. Here are some strategies:
To Improve Character:
- Establish a code of conduct
- Implement ethics and values training
- Set expectations for responsibility and accountability
- Model desired behaviors and hold everyone accountable
- Reward and recognize demonstrations of character
To Enhance Competence:
- Assess current abilities to identify skill gaps
- Provide training and development opportunities
- Assign team members to roles matching their strengths
- Cross-train team members to build capacity
- Hire or transfer people to fill capability gaps
To Improve Chemistry:
- Facilitate team building activities
- Establish norms for open communication and respect
- Create opportunities for informal interactions and bonding
- Address sources of interpersonal friction or exclusion
- Coach low-empathy members on emotional intelligence
The Impact of High Character, Competence, and Chemistry
Teams that fire on all cylinders across character, competence, and chemistry achieve tremendous benefits, including:
- Greater innovation fueled by diverse ideas and debate
- Improved strategic thinking and complex decision-making
- Enhanced creativity from collaborative brainstorming
- More effective execution due to interdependent contributions
- Increased speed and agility responding to opportunities
- Better-quality outputs through synergistic work
- High levels of team member engagement and job satisfaction
- Expanded capacity to take on ambitious challenges
- Greatly amplified overall performance and results
For teams striving for excellence, mastering the three C’s unlocks limitless potential through synergistic collaboration. But it requires intention, investment, and persistence – the gains do not happen overnight. Ultimately, the rewards of developing robust character, competence, and chemistry are well worth the effort for teams seeking to maximize their capabilities and impact.
Character, competence, and chemistry represent the three vital dimensions for building a dream team. Character provides the mindset and values that put team above self. Competence supplies the diverse skills and expertise to accomplish collective goals. Chemistry generates the level of trust, cohesion, and interdependence required for true collaboration. When all three C’s are strong, teams are empowered to achieve their fullest potential.
Assembling a team with excellent character, competence, and chemistry takes work. But organizations that purposefully develop these traits are rewarded with engaged teams that deliver exceptional results. The three C’s unlock the multiplying benefits of great teamwork, making them non-negotiable for any group striving for optimal effectiveness and performance.