What does it mean to be a team player?

Connecting a group of people for a common purpose requires both skill and strategy. 

Underpinned by a common why, shared values, and deliberate acts of collaboration, teamwork requires constant nurturing by all. Each team member needs to be invested in being a team player for the team to operate in a state of flow.

Patrick Lencioni has written “The Ideal Team Player” (2016).

He states they need to be humble. Someone who is more concerned with the success of the team than with getting credit for his or her contributions. They do not require a disproportionate amount of attention, nor do they constantly seek what’s in it for them. They are, however, able to acknowledge their strengths, but never in a proud or boastful way.

He says the ideal team player also needs to be hungry. They have a desire to work hard and do whatever is necessary to help the team succeed. Hungry employees rarely need to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent. They volunteer to fill gaps, take on more responsibilities and are eagerly looking around corners for new ways to contribute to the team

They are also smart. This is not about being intelligent, but rather about being wise in how to deal with people. Smart employees understand the nuances of team dynamics and know how their words and actions impact others. Their good judgement and intuition help them deal with others most effectively.

I would like to expand on Lencioni’s thinking. I believe at the heart of any Team Player is their investment. 

  • How committed are they to the vision?
  • To what extent do their values align with those of the organisation?

We can have someone who shows all three qualities, yet without a common purpose, aligned values, and agreed ways of working, they are a lone wolf.

As you reflect on your teams

  • What qualities do you look for in a team member? 
  • How clear are you on these, and with whom?
  • How does your current team align with these qualities?
  • If you were to employ, what qualities do you need to look for to make a cohesive team?

I’d love to hear your reflections, so feel free to drop me a reply.

Ngā manaakitanga


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1 Comment

  1. Kia ora Mary Anne
    As always I enjoy reading your articles. I work best in a team, whether leading or just being a team member. Sometimes when truth speaks to power, it can create tension in a team. That aspect of humility and hungriness, openness to new ideas in our time is quite critical.

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