How to Become a Better Team Player?

The question about what it takes to be a good team player keeps coming up in my coaching practice with executives and leadership teams. I think this largely reflects the fact that you, as well as the majority of corporate employees, likely belong to one or more teams.

Out of the large amount of literature available on this subject, I continue to leverage the three qualities outlined in The Ideal Team Player book by Patrick Lencioni, explained by him in a recent TEDx talk. They resonate well with my own observations both as a coach and, before that, as a corporate executive.

  1. Be humble. I find team members struggle the most with this quality. It’s hard for them to admit their mistakes, ask for help, and give praise to others. Corporate cultures tend to reward individual over collective accomplishments, which makes it hard to show your vulnerabilities. However, being humble is a choice you can make and, for those of you who lead teams, you can role model.
  2. Be hungry. I find elements of this virtue in most successful executives. They are willing to go the extra mile to deliver results above expectations. However, the challenge I see is how to demonstrate this passion and personal responsibility not only for their individual objectives, but also for the greater good of the team.  
  3. Be people-smart. This is about active listening and showing empathy for other team members. It’s also about treating others the way they want to be treated.

As an executive, team leader or member, you have a choice to make when working within a team: Operate as an individual, or truly work as a team player. If it’s the latter, consider role-modeling these three qualities. You will deliver better results and your team will likely follow suit.

Let me know if you would like to schedule a free consultation call to discuss how I can coach you or your employees to achieve better team results or to improve other leadership and management skills.

Percy M. Cannon

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