How to Become a Great Team Player

These days, most work gets done in teams. Being a good team player is a critical career success skill. In addition to my work as a career mentor, I do a lot of work with teams. A good deal of my consulting work involves team building with senior leadership teams. My career mentoring clients often ask me what they need to do to become a true team player. You ask, I respond.

How to Become a Great Team Player

Great team players have a lot in common. Here are 21 characteristics of all great team players. How many of them are true of you?

  1. Technical Competence– You have to be good at what you do if you’re going to be able to contribute to a team. Master your technical discipline.
  2. Sharing Orientation– Be willing to share your knowledge, expertise and ideas. The old saying, “Knowledge is power” is true only is you are willing to share what you know with your teammates.
  3. Good Interpersonal Skills– You have to be good at building relationships if you want to be a great team player. To build strong relationships think of the team and others first. Ask yourself what you can do for the team and its members – not what they can do for you.
  4. Responsible – Do your part. Great team players do what they say they’ll do. They contribute. They ask for help only when they have exhausted all of their resources.
  5. Positive – Stay up beat, even when your team is under the gun. Visualize the thrill of success, not the pain of failure. Help your teammates see the positive in the most difficult of circumstances.
  6. Care About Stakeholders– Most teams have some external stakeholders who are depending on them. Make sure that you understand what each of your team’s stakeholders want and need. Do you meet to meet their needs.
  7. Welcome and Use Feedback– Listen to your teammates. Welcome their feedback on your participation. Use what you learn.
  8. Meet Commitments– Do what you need to do to help your team succeed. If you can’t meet a commitment, let your teammates know right away.
  9. Honest – Everybody wants to work with people of integrity. Be honest with yourself and your teammates.
  10. Initiative – Help the team move forward. Make suggestions, think of new and different ways to accomplish the team’s goals. Be willing to take the lead/
  11. Trusting – Believe that your teammates want the team to succeed. Trust them. If you don’t understand why they did something, engage them in conversation.
  12. Trustworthy – Keep confidences, do what you say you’ll do, put the goals of the team first.
  13. Consensus Builder– Actively work to find solutions that meet the needs of all team members and stakeholders. Use compromise as a last resort.
  14. Own Team Problems– Take personal responsibility for the team’s success. If everyone does this, the team is bound to succeed.
  15. Empathy – See things through the eyes of your team members. Do your best to understand their points of view.
  16. Respect Others–You can disagree with a person’s ideas without demeaning him or her personally. Respect the dignity of every human being on your team.
  17. Resolve Conflict Positively— Look for positive ways to resolve conflict. Find small points of agreement in disagreements. Find creative solutions to disagreements that satisfy everybody.
  18. Focus on Task and Process– Pay attention to not only what the team does, but how it does it. If you find the team getting bogged down, make suggestions on how to get past the bottleneck.
  19. Humble – Take your share of the credit, but remember you’re part of a team. Give credit to others where it is due.
  20. Supportive – Be there for your teammates. Help them succeed so the team can succeed. Share your knowledge and wisdom to help others grow and succeed.
  21. Flexible – This is the most important characteristic of all. Be willing to suspend your point of view to learn about what others think. Be open to changing your mind.

The career mentor point here is simple common sense. Great teams are made up of great team players. In this post I have listed 21 characteristics of great team players. I suggest that you read the list again. Decide how many are true of you. Work on becoming known as someone who possesses all 21 of these characteristics. You’ll be welcome on any team. That’s my career advice on becoming a great team player. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. Also, tell us a little bit about the best teams of which you’ve been a part. Thanks again for reading my musings on life and career success.

Your career mentor,


PS – If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my bestselling career mentor book Success Tweets at When you download the book, you’ll also begin receiving my daily success quotes.

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