How Being a Team Player Makes You Stand Out
Imagine that you are on a basketball team. Who would you want as your captain? Who would you look up to and trust to make you a better player yourself? Would you want the player who is consistently trying to be the one to make the big plays and rarely passes the ball? Or would you want someone who is constantly looking at the full court to see who’s open and to whom they can pass to make a play?
The latter example is by far the person a coach and their team would choose to be captain. This is because being a team player makes you stand out. It’s team players who make leadership positions, not solo players.
The same can be said for the work environment. Team players make excellent leaders, from projects and pitches to navigating the company’s direction. But how and why? What exactly about being a team player makes a person stand out?
1. Team Players Volunteer Themselves
Yes, everyone we work with has their own job description and their own tasks that are assigned specifically to them. However, oftentimes, additional projects or tasks arise in which it’s no one’s specific job. You might be in a meeting where it’s suggested that if someone were to do additional research about an area that no one is familiar with. A team player would jump at the chance to be the person to do that research, because they know that the better prepared they are, the better prepared their team is.
2. Team Players Think Long-Term
Just like in basketball, a team player doesn’t care who makes the play, it’s that the play is made. They don’t just think about how good it will make them look to make an incredible shot. They think about how good it will make their team look to make the playoffs. They don’t focus solely on how they themselves can get ahead, but rather how their team and the company can get ahead. Because ultimately, the better the team does, the better it is for them and everyone else. So the next time that you can do something to assist a person you work with to succeed, try it, and see what happens.
3. Team Players Focus on Solutions
It’s inevitable that any team or workplace will face downfalls or create mistakes. What makes a person stand out is how they respond to that mistake. Do they wallow in their upset or look for someone at whom to point the blame? Or, do they instead take a step back and look for a solution? The team player isn’t as concerned with pointing fingers as they are with moving forward and ensuring the same problem doesn’t happen again.
4. Team Players Help Their Coworkers
Continuing with the basketball analogy, picture if a team has one player who’s been struggling with something. Perhaps they have a tendency to double-dribble or have a free-through percentage record that isn’t where it should be. A team player is someone who would take time out of their day to help their teammate. Maybe they put together an extra pick up game to provide more opportunity to learn, or they stay after practice to help them focus only on shooting free throws. Is there anyone you work at that isn’t as adept as you are in any specific area? Taking the time to give them some pointers is what a team player would do.
5. Team Players Take the First Step
Team players are very similar to leaders. They are willing to take the first step in the face of uncertainty. Take, for example, hundreds of years ago when the monarchy was the standard government set-up. Kings and Queens would often employ a food taster. This person would take the first bite or the first sip of any particular meal to ensure that the food wasn’t poisoned. They did this for the sake of their country and their posterity. While this is a bit of an extreme example, I couldn’t think of a better embodiment of a team player. More common examples of this in the workplace might be something like being the first person to complete a new training program or volunteering to be the one to spearhead a new initiative.
6. Team Players Look at the Big Picture
Oftentimes when people believe they have great ideas or innovations for the company, such as implementing a new policy or changing a procedure, that person is really just looking at how it can improve their own department. However, there may be things that the person has overlooked, such as how it will affect the accounting department or the sales department and whether or not it would save the company time and money, or just the time and money. Team players take the company as a whole into consideration before implementing changes or up-leveling systems.
If you have ideas about up-leveling where you work and want to do it in a way that supports your whole team and not just one department, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help.
It’s been said that no man is an island. And the same goes for a successful business. It doesn’t happen with everyone alone focused on their own work and not looking at the company as a whole.
So, the next time that you want to stand out from your crowd of coworkers or acquaintances, try taking a look at a project or situation in which you have an opportunity to practice one of the above characteristics. To a boss and a company who are forward-thinking and want to continue to grow and succeed, you will stand out.
Melissa Schoenecker is a freelance writer and co-creator of the universe based in Venice, California. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Master's Degree from the University of Santa Monica. She contributes to a number of blogs and online postings, but her best work can be found in her gratitude journal.