The official season opener of the 2019 baseball season is this week! To commemorate that occasion, I want to share some real wisdom from the legendary Babe Ruth, who slugged his way into history. He said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
Leadership is one of my passions. Helping executives, business owners, and managers develop the skills to lead effectively is very satisfying. But no organization can run smoothly if everybody is a boss – and, in reality, the majority of people function best in a supportive role. So, if you’re not the person in charge, focus on learning and demonstrating the traits of a great team player.
Great team players…
Set ego aside
Maybe you’ve heard it before: Great things can be done when you don’t care who gets the credit. Focus on the contribution you can make, not the credit you hope to receive. At the end of the day, knowing you were part of a successful effort is extremely rewarding.
If your team has been given a goal, spend your time and energy working toward making it happen. Be willing to listen to others’ ideas, brainstorm with an open mind and realize that your idea may or may not be the best way to accomplish the goal. It’s more important that the project is successful than who gets their way.
Learn to understand their teammates
People have distinctly different behavioral styles or temperaments. Learn to observe how others operate; are they detailed, visionary, extroverted, introverted, task driven, people oriented, talkative, quiet? Sometimes we don’t understand how others do things, but it’s important to realize that a well-rounded team needs a variety of styles in order to accomplish goals. The old saying goes, “It takes all kinds,” and it does!
Focus on their role, and not everybody else’s
Any team project or goal will have a better chance of being completed well and on time if you make an honest effort to do the part you have been assigned with diligence and integrity. One characteristic of a great team member is a commitment to not letting your team down. And, while there may be some cross-over in the division of responsibilities, be careful not to step on someone else’s toes. Give others the opportunity to do their own job their own way in order to maximize creativity and empowerment and minimize destructive conflict.
Studies show that a person’s satisfaction on the job isn’t all about their paycheck. Most people are more motivated to greatness by positive feedback, pleasant working conditions, good working relationships, a sense that what they are do matters and receiving appreciation. You can create a great team environment by offering sincere encouragement. “Your research really helped me out.” “Thanks for sharing your insights on that problem.” “I really enjoy working with you!” “Your work really got us over the finish line on that job!” A considerate word when a team member makes an error can smooth over the rough spots, too. “Don’t worry about it. We have all made that mistake. Let’s see what we can do to straighten it out together.”
So, take a lesson from Babe Ruth: Start each day by asking yourself how you can help your team succeed. It’s a smart way to begin every day!
Have you had challenges with team members? How do you make it work? Let us know about your experience with your team!
Live, Work and Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.