How to Become a Great Team Player

Happy Memorial Day to all of my career success readers in the USA.  This year Memorial Day falls on its traditional date May 30.  When I was a kid, I always looked forward to Memorial Day as it marked the beginning of summer. And,  I got to put on my boy scout uniform and march in my little town’s parade.  I hope you are having a great weekend and enjoying the extra day off. 

Being a good team player is a critical career success skill.  I do a lot of work with teams.  A good deal of my consulting work involves facilitating leadership teams.  My career success coach clients often ask me what they need to do to become a really great team player.

Last week I sat down and created a list of the 21 characteristics all great team players possess.  Check it out.

How to Be a Great Team Player

I have found that 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 success coach point here is simple common sense.  Great teams just don’t happen.  All great teams have three things in common: 1) a clearly defined purpose, 2) completely committed members, and 3) a desire to meet the needs of their stakeholders.  In this post I have listed 21 characteristics that all great team players possess.  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 and closer to your career success goal.

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.  Happy Memorial Day.  Thanks again for reading my daily musings on life and career success.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

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