What makes a great team player?

teamworkingLove her or hate her, not many people would say that Margaret Thatcher was a great team player.

These days even top leaders recognise they need to be team players to get the most out of their people.

Team working really matters. Tensions and conflict from poor team playing wreck havoc on productivity and take up valuable management time. Collective energy undoubtedly increases productivity but in the charity sector, where not everyone in a team necessarily works on the same programme, extra effort is needed to ensure a high-performing and engaged team.

Everyone will say they’re a good team player when asked the classic interview question, but what does it really take to be one? My experience of coaching both leaders and team members suggest some key factors:

1. Absolute clarity about team objectives and then reliability in delivering what you said you would.

2. Being available to each other. Yes, you have to focus on your prinicple role, but when I go into an organisation where heads are down, and there’s a lot of ‘don’t talk to me!” body language at 9 o’clock in the morning, alarm bells ring. Team members who help each other out with time, information and resources will trust each other more, care about each other more – and end up getting more help back.

3. Giving credit where credit is due. Great team players acknowledge each others’ contributions within the team and more widely. Resentment builds quickly when individual efforts are not recognised

3. Talking up the team. Not in an aggressive way or in competition with others – but using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’; celebrating successes such as a fundraising target met; having a team newsletter or notice board which members take turns to update

5. Listening  Great team players listen to each other. They make space for each other to be heard and acknowledge what’s been said with praise for a good idea or a positive constructive comment

6. Knowing yourself Team members who know there strengths, values, learning style and team role, are more supportive and valuing of colleagues who contribute in a different way. They’re better able to work to their strengths for the good of the team.


I can support you and your team, or others in your organisation, develop great team player skills though individual and team coaching. Contact me here or call 0208 772 7808 for a no-obligation chat about how I can help.