What are the traits of a great teammate? Here are some thoughts to ponder and help you determine if your teammates are friend or foe to your future elite team. It goes without saying that you can consider where you stand on them as well:
- A great teammate is a good listener and spends time learning to ask good questions. Be wary of the one that needs to always have “the answer.”
- A great teammate is not divisive. His or her contribution is provided in a constructive and balanced manner, with ego set aside at the door. Disagreement with a plan or action is acceptable and valuable when done in a spirit of harmony versus discord. Anytime I had a teammate state “this plan sucks,” I cringed. It is not very helpful to negatively comment even if you think you may know of a better way. It slams the door in the face of the leader. Better to question and offer ideas than criticize and shut down the conversation.
- A great teammate receives feedback well and is not afraid to provide supportive feedback to his teammates. In essence, he or she is both coachable and a good coach.
- A great teammate supports the mission of the team. They seek opportunities to make the positional leader’s job easier. Once the mission is agreed upon he or she does what he can to back up the mission leader and his teammates to ensure success.
- A great teammate cultivates attention to detail in the areas of expertise and seeks to attain a useful working knowledge of other teammate’s jobs so that he can pitch in. Further, they do not shy from the “common area” duties that no specific individual is assigned to – such as emptying the garbage or cleaning the dishes in the sink. Only large and bloated bureaucracies and unionized companies have someone to fill every common area task. Elite teams don’t need to spend the money or wait for someone else to does these things; it is just done when it needs to be done.
- A great teammate has a service mentality and actively takes care of teammates. The power of the team comes from all teammates looking after each other and serving each other. The links in the chain are reinforced and greased daily when all teammates act in service of the others and the team.
- A great teammate trusts themselves and doesn’t second guess or dilly dally in decisions. This trust in self projects trustworthiness to other teammates and cultivate the team’s collective mental toughness
- A great teammate doesn’t shy from the challenge. They share risk with teammates and strengthen trust.
- A great teammate has developed their mind with strong situational awareness, mental focus and the ability to remain calm under pressure. In essence, they are mentally tough and will not take any action that will diminish the team’s collective toughness. Watching a video of the Mars Spirit and Opportunity NASA – JPL team in action was a great example of this. The entire ready room was poised, focused and calm as they performed a near-impossible task of landing a vehicle safely on a planet far from home.
- A great teammate is decisive and those decisions are grounded in thoughtful, experience-based reality. They are not reactionary.
- A great teammate is ready to assume leadership at any time and is excited when the opportunity arises.
No doubt there are other qualities of great teammates, but this is a good start. Where does your team stand on these? Where do you?