The Ultimate Team Player

What does it really mean to be a team player? I hear this a lot with both big and small companies alike.  It would be nice if there was a short fill-in-the-blank answer we could give here, but it’s not that easy.

Successful Team

Being the Ultimate Team Player

Historically, the phrase “team player” has been used as a descriptor by a lot of people in a variety of instances. When someone disagrees with us in a meeting, or we don’t like what they say, we dismiss them by saying, “they’re not a team player.” When someone says something that doesn’t align with the company culture, we conveniently state, “they’re not being a team player.” The word has baggage in the business world and a murky definition in the workplace. It’s no wonder “team play” is highly valued according to workplace surveys, but far less seen and experienced. And everyone thinks they are a “team player.” But how do you know if you/they really are?

According to research, the ultimate team player has certain characteristics that set them apart and make it easy (at least easier) to know who they are when you see them.

Here are some key questions that distinguish a great team player:

1. Do you make the people around you better?

2. Do others offer better ideas because of your questions?

3. Do others work more passionately because they’re around you?

4. Do others pay attention more when you are in the room?

5. Are others more engaged because they’re on a project with you?

Here are 12 characteristics of a great team player that feed into the five questions above:

1. Has “We”, then “Me” mindset; works with a team first approach without losing sight of his individual talent, confidence and contribution.

2. Devoted to progress; committed to a cause or purpose beyond themselves.

3. Speaks their mind boldly and diplomatically.

4. Listens to feedback carefully and anxiously, especially when it’s difficult to hear.

5. Constructively discontent; not pessimistic, but not relaxed about status-quo.

6. Inclusive; loves diversity and talent, especially those with talents and history different than theirs.

7. Insists on debate, and debates ideas effectively; doesn’t care who has the best idea, as long as the best idea wins; doesn’t take things personally.

8. Open minded; not change or new idea resistant.

9. Doesn’t allow the early warning signs of poor communication and teamwork (defensiveness, showcasing, excessive competition, seeking acceptance) undermine team dynamics and individual talent.

10. Sees people as equals, not as superiors and subordinates. Only in accountability and performance are those hierarchical relationships visible.

11. People trust your intentions; people know where you’re coming from when you challenge ideas, share new ideas, etc.

12. Desire to make a difference, not just “do your job.” There is a clear performance difference between “job-holders” and difference-makers.

Being a good team player isn’t always easy. Teams are usually created to solve difficult problems, and they often have tight deadlines and strict budgets. But this can be your chance to shine. Look at teamwork as not only a challenge, but a great opportunity.

Help your team by using your strengths, clearly understanding your role, and staying flexible and reliable until the project is completed. Be positive, and help others as much as you can. By being cooperative and willing to work hard, you’ll make a good impression on everyone – including your boss.

Want someone who’s only role is to support you achieving success?  If you would like to know more about our team player or team performance workshops, please call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a complimentary consultation to discuss your company’s needs.


Source:  Marcum Smith LLC

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