How to be a great team member

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Most all of us work on a team or teams. I’m part of several–I’m on the senior staff team at the church, I’m on our church’s session, I lead the discipleship staff team, and I resource several ministry teams across the adult discipleship area. My education didn’t prepare me for effective collaboration, even in seminary. As a result, most of my training came in the form of professional education while working in management with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA.I benefitted from strong bosses and team leaders like my last InterVarsity supervisor Don Paul Gross.

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I also benefitted from the formal training developed by InterVarsity’s training department as well as resources I discovered and used myself. And I’ve still got a long ways to go. As an INTJ team work doesn’t always come naturally to me–I have to work at it!

Michael Hyatt offers the following suggestions for becoming MVP of your team (whether you lead it or are part of it):

  • Play till the whistle blows. Don’t walk off the field in the game. Even if you’re behind—especially if you’re behind—you can make a winning contribution. But you’ll never do it if you quit early.
  • Practice good communication. For me that all comes down to clarity, responsiveness, and frequency. Be clear, don’t bottleneck information, and keep everyone who needs to know in the know as often as they need to know it.
  • Work hard. More accurately, work harder than you think you need to. Doing the minimum will win no points with people who are putting in extra effort. If you have more to give, do it.
  • Share your best. If you want to serve your team members, don’t hold back. Creativity, talent, learning, insight—they can make all the difference in the final outcome, so share your best stuff.
  • Own your mistakes. Responsibility is the mark of a strong team player. If there’s a problem and it’s yours, own it. Accountability frees people to work on the problem, not fester about the one who created it.
  • Affirm others. Team spirit is critical for victory, and everyone on the team is responsible to improve the mood if possible. Catch others doing good work and call them out.
  • Be positive. By its very nature, cynicism kills teamwork. Unlike constructive criticism, it’s defensive and self-indulgent. It’s designed to protect the cynic at the expense of everyone else. A positive attitude about problems is the best way to help the team get past them.

Are there additional characteristics that make for a good team member?

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