The Truth about Teamwork

Many senior leadership teams (SLTs) are told that to perform at their best, they must constantly strive to behave as a tight, closely-knit team. Team building events and initiatives often reinforce this assumption. Excitement is generated on the day, along with commitments, but sadly these are often quickly abandoned as ‘real life’ kicks in back in the workplace.

We believe this is because in reality the SLT needs to adapt the way they work with each other to meet specific situations or challenges. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution to how SLT’s work together. We use a model of teamwork that can be represented as a continuum, moving from individualism at one extreme through to a fully integrated collective action at the other. All points on the continuum are equally ‘good’ and effective, as long as they are consciously chosen and appropriate to the challenge being addressed.

We call our model ‘the 4 Cs of teamwork’. The four modes are: Compete, Cooperate, Collaborate, Cohere. One example of how we use this model to develop high performing SLTs is through the following exercise:

Using a simple but sophisticated internet based tool, team members self-assess the effectiveness of the team in terms of particular activities. They then explore the 4 Cs of teamwork to help team members focus on how to optimise the different modes of working together in pursuit of their goals and aspirations. They then decide on the immediate actions that will increase their effectiveness.

If you would like to explore how the application of the 4 Cs of teamwork could transform the performance of your SLT, please email Paul Barker at

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