In its purest form, teamwork is when two or more people come together to reach a common goal. To do that, the people involved in the team must collaborate and take on various aspects of the project or duties to get the entire task completed. To have a successful team, you must be a good team player. But what is a good team player? Can being a good team player be summed up by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Pretty much yes. Let’s face it, it’s not difficult to be a good team player, but sometimes it is hard to be an excellent team player.
We’ve all been in situations where the team might not be gelling as well as it could and should be. We may not be able to control the attitudes and behaviors of other members of our teams, but we certainly have control over own our attitudes and behaviors. And in turn, by strengthening our own team player skills we strengthen the team as a whole. But we can expand upon the Golden Rule and dive a bit deeper to define what it means to be a good team player. Patrick Lencioni’s Ted Talk describes three simple traits to be a good team player: humble, hungry, and smart.
- To be a good team player you must practice humility. You take ownership of your tasks and of your mistakes. Practicing humility means that you celebrate peers’ successes just as much as your own. Jason Sudeikis as soccer coach Ted Lasso described humility by saying, “I think that you might be so sure you’re one in a million that sometimes you forget that out there, you’re just one of 11”. Even if you are a super star, you realize that all members of the team contribute to its success.
- To be a good team player you must be hungry. You want to get the job done with an internal set of high standards. You are not a slacker. You meet your deadlines and are reliable. You go above and beyond. But you are not a workaholic, you realize when you are in over your head and ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength and courage, it is always keeping the best interests of the Team a priority.
- To be a good team player you must be smart. Not book or intelligence smart, but emotionally smart. You understand how your words and actions affect others. You bring out the best in people. You actively listen and avoid multitasking to give your full attention to peers and teammates. You are open minded, interested is discussing new ideas/processes and adapt quickly to change. As Michael Jordon said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
Why is it important to practice being a good team player? Good team players make good teams. Good teams can do extraordinary things. “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results,” Andrew Carnegie. Don’t we all want to attain uncommon results, isn’t that our goal?
All the skills put into practice being a good team player in the office should be applied to client and vendor relationships as well. After all, aren’t we all on the same team, do we not share a common goal and strive for uncommon results? As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Practice being a good team player with both internal and external teams, together we can accomplish so much more.