In the article, Being a Better Leader, I talked about qualities one should develop to become a better leader. In this article, I will discuss the qualities one should develop for being a better team player. As you read, you will realize that most of the qualities are common to both a leader and a team member, though with a slightly different emphasis. It is no coincidence, for a leader is also a member of the organization which is a larger team.
- Be compassionate—Be understanding of other person’s feelings. Be kind and encouraging toward your coworkers and your
supervisors. Yes, some managers like that from their reports. It may not be because they are weak or insecure (well… some may be), but because they like to know that their team members do care about them.
- Be patient—Be patient with your colleagues and your supervisors. If you cannot devote any time to your colleagues’ needs either politely decline or set up a time slot to meet with them, so you can give full attention to their problem. Do not be sullen or rude. Some managers stress you out by looking over your shoulder all the time and not trusting you. Try to find a polite way of telling them to get off your back. Snapping at them may backfire on you.
- Develop friendship and trust—Develop friendship and trust with your teammates and your manager. When you develop trust and friendship, everything—patience, compassion, … everything—towards everybody becomes easy. When your manager trusts you, he will be able to consult with you freely—you become his right-hand person.
- Be protective—If you are a senior member of a team, try as much as possible to protect your teammates from your supervisor, if you feel that your supervisor may be unreasonable at times. Help them as much as you can.
- Keep promises—As a teammate, make promises to your colleagues, only if you can keep them. Same thing goes with promises you make to your manager.
- Be honest and open—If you have anything to say to your manager or teammates, be open and honest with them. Of course, you should not be rude, but convey what you want to convey in a polite, compassionate way. There is no point in keeping those issues, you need resolved, to yourself and be sulking.
- Show your strengths—If you have a particular strength in an area of work, don’t hesitate to use that strength in your work to produce better results. You should tell your manager that you have that particular strength and you would want to do projects that would take advantage of the strength. If you feel your manager may not listen to you (there, surely, are some managers who would not listen and want you to follow their way without any modifications), prove your strengths through work that is assigned to you and hope that you will be noticed. If your strengths are still not noticed, then find another way—have someone else who has some influence with your manager convey the message; just find a way.
- Be willing to learn—If you feel that you lack knowledge in some area of work, do not hesitate or feel shy to ask for direction and help from people who have that knowledge. Most groups that have a cooperative environment, encourage you to ask for help openly when needed.
- Be a mentor—If you are a senior member of the team be a mentor to others. You don’t have to be a manager to be a mentor. You can be a mentor in many ways–just giving guidance in day to day work goes a long way.
- Be approachable—Be approachable to your manager as well as your teammates. I have seen people whose managers are intimidated to approach them. You may say that the manager should just fire that person–but he cannot do that unless he has a strong legitimate reason to do so.
- Be a team member—You may be the sole person working on a project. In most large projects, this is not possible. Working together is always a give and take relationship. So, meet your teammates in the middle, if any issue arises. It is better to work together, so they understand your point of view, rather than forcing them which almost always fails unless you wield a greater power in your workplace and with the upper management. As always, power play causes great friction and frustration in the team.
- Listen first and engage in a dialogue—Develop deep listening skills. Listen to everybody first before putting your own ideas forward. Engage in a meaningful dialogue in resolving each and every issue amicably. This eliminates all the tension that may be caused otherwise.
- Be thankful and appreciative—Even if you receive the smallest amount of help, be very grateful for it.
- Be cooperative and not competitive—Do not compete or be jealous with your teammates. Remember only cooperation is going to help move a team’s objective forward.
- Be joyful—Be happy and jovial with everybody. This goes a long way in strengthening your relationships with your colleagues.
Most of all do not send articles like this one or Being a Better Leader to your supervisor unless you are very good friends with him or her and know for sure that he or she will not misunderstand you. 🙂
All the best.