Perfect Team Players Don’t Exist & Why it Doesn’t Matter

This entry is part of 3 in the series Know Thyself

Doubting Your Team Skills

At an event run by CIGRE UK Women’s Network, an attendee told me that she could not possibly agree with the statement ‘I am a great team player‘ because sometimes she needs time to concentrate and to be on her own. Just two days earlier a client told me she is praised for her ability to socialize and connect but that sometimes the activity surrounding her is so overpowering she has to seek out a quiet place to recover.

What’s going on here? What kind of pressure are we putting on ourselves to be the perfect team player? Does such a person even exist?

Of course, the abilities to relate to others, build relationships based on trust and create conditions in which every member of the team feels valued are critical in today’s knowledge economy where success is built on the capacity to innovate and find better and more effective ways of operating.

Awareness is Key

But trying to be someone we are not – leading up to an impossibly high standard of continuous happiness and calm – is, I believe, unattainable and actually counter-productive. The key is, in my view, to be aware of what we are feeling at any specific moment, what need the feeling is indicating, and what we might need to do about it. This is part and parcel of understanding ourselves at a deeper level, recognizing and owning our strengths, and knowing when to deploy them.

The more we understand our true authentic selves, the easier it is to recognize what we need to do refuel and ensure we continue to add value. So rather than feeling disappointed that we need to be on our own and that we have perhaps let the team down, we can instead acknowledge our ability to take time out appropriately and return with a better perspective and a greater capacity to make a difference.

We might also come to the conclusion that our minds have had just too much too process, even if we generally do draw energy from socializing with people, and that shutting down for a while to re-boot, so to speak, is natural a consequence of our efforts.

Team Strengths Come in Many Guises

The better we get at find tuning self awareness, the greater will be our ability to sense what it is our team mates need. We might notice, for example, that someone seems a little agitated during a meeting. What might this mean? How could we help? Rather than focusing on contributing our own ideas, perhaps, proactively encouraging this person to speak might be appropriate instead. So often, perfect team players are seen as those who get stuck in and take on the mantle of the cheerleader. While we need people to take on these roles of course, adding value comes in so many other guises too.

Questions to take you further

  • How do you view your individual team skills? Do you give yourself ample credit for your contribution?
  • How aware are you of what you need to sustain your ability to work collaboratively?
  • How could you apply an awareness of diverse needs in the team to ensure everyone is heard and feels able to contribute?

Find out more about the work Clare McNamara does with leaders and their teams on influence and authenticity.

© Move Ahead Global 2016

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