How to Be A Great Teammate

I spoke at my former university recently, as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the school’s sailing team, which I’d been part of at one time. The organizers asked me to say a few words about team building and team culture, as they know it’s a subject I’ve been spending a lot of time on of late. Their current team culture is a very positive one. They refer to it as the “As One Philosophy,” which suggests that no matter your standing on the team, from the standout star to the last person on the bench, that the team stands together “As One,” no matter who’s on the field at the time. That’s certainly a philosophy I agree with, so I was more than happy to add my comments at the event.

There were a few things I focused on, which I’d like to share with you, as they’re concepts which are appropriate beyond this university sailing team:

First, being a great teammate is an attitude, not a skill. Being a great teammate is completely unrelated to your ability on the field, or in the office. Skill and ability, oftentimes, are in your nature, whereas attitude is something you can adopt and nurture. You can control your attitude about being a great teammate.

Second, being a great teammate is a choice — one you make every day. It’s a choice between promoting yourself and your needs, or promoting the needs of the team. And it’s not always easy. As human beings, we’re ambitious, and each of us wants to do what’s best for ourselves, so making that choice is sometimes challenging. But it’s essential in order to be that great teammate.

And finally, remember that five, ten, or twenty years down the road, when the people you’ve worked with, played with, or teamed with think of you, what they’ll remember above all else is what kind of teammate you were. You may be the best in the world at what you do, but if you were a bad teammate, people will remember. It may not be as important in the competitive moment, but I think we can all agree that at some point in the future, peoples’ perception of you, your brand, or your reputation will be important to you.

Some food for thought as we start another week. Hope it’s a great one. As always, comments and feedback are most welcome.

Good luck.

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.