Talk is cheap. This is especially true when it comes to saying you are a team player.
Just because you say you are, doesn’t make it so. In her article When is a Team Player Not a Team Player, Naomi Karten tells a story of a group of self-proclaimed “team players” who did not play well as a team.
Sure they delivered the result. In this case they solved the problem at hand. Yet it was a painful and unsatisfying process.
Her article points to a common misconception about what it means to be a team player – that it begins and ends with a personal commitment to delivering the result.
Of course, owning the result is an essential element of being a team player, but it is far from enough to be able to declare that you are one.
No matter how good your intentions are, you are not being a team player when…
…owning the result means you know best or your way is the only right approach.
…your personal goal is winning in spite of your teammates, rather than finding a way to win with them.
…you are more interested in being heard than genuinely listening to what others have to contribute.
…you show up, but let others do all the work.
…you allow others to dominate important conversations at the expense of your contribution or the contribution of others.
…you give in to others because it is easier to step aside even when you have something to contribute and/or disagree with what is being said or done.
So what does it really mean to be a team player?
It starts with a personal commitment to the result promised by the team. But there is one more essential commitment – a commitment to your teammates that you will give your best and empower them to give their best as well.
A true team player speaks up, steps up and stands up for whatever it takes to deliver the best possible outcome and contribute to a satisfying journey for the team as a whole.
Ultimately the only true test of whether you are a team player, however, is to ask your teammates. So if really want to know if your talk matches your walk, consider asking your teammates.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you know you are being a true team player?