If you were choosing team members for a business team in your organization, who would the best team players be? Assuming that people have the right technical skills for the work to be done, what other factors would you use to select your team members?

Teams need strong team players to perform well. But what defines such people? Read on. (Also, check out How to Hire the Best Brains for the Best Team for some tips on putting a team together.)

Demonstrates reliability

You can count on a reliable team member who gets work done and does his fair share to work hard and meet commitments. He or she follows through on assignments. Consistency is key. You can count on him or her to deliver good performance all the time, not just some of the time.

Communicates constructively

Teams need people who speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly, and with respect for others and for the work of the team. That's what it means to communicate constructively. Such a team member does not shy away from making a point but makes it in the best way possible — in a positive, confident, and respectful manner.

Listens actively

Good listeners are essential for teams to function effectively. Teams need team players who can absorb, understand, and consider ideas and points of view from other people without debating and arguing every point. Such a team member also can receive criticism without reacting defensively. Most important, for effective communication and problem solving, team members need the discipline to listen first and speak second so that meaningful dialogue results.

Functions as an active participant

Good team players are active participants. They come prepared for team meetings and listen and speak up in discussions. They're fully engaged in the work of the team and do not sit passively on the sidelines.

Team members who function as active participants take the initiative to help make things happen, and they volunteer for assignments. Their whole approach is can-do: "What contribution can I make to help the team achieve success?"

Shares openly and willingly

Good team players share. They're willing to share information, knowledge, and experience. They take the initiative to keep other team members informed.

Much of the communication within teams takes place informally. Beyond discussion at organized meetings, team members need to feel comfortable talking with one another and passing along important news and information day-to-day. Good team players are active in this informal sharing. They keep other team members in the loop with information and expertise that helps get the job done and prevents surprises.

Cooperates and pitches in to help

Cooperation is the act of working with others and acting together to accomplish a job. Effective team players work this way by second nature. Good team players, despite differences they may have with other team members concerning style and perspective, figure out ways to work together to solve problems and get work done. They respond to requests for assistance and take the initiative to offer help.

Exhibits flexibility

Teams often deal with changing conditions — and often create changes themselves. Good team players roll with the punches; they adapt to ever-changing situations. They don't complain or get stressed out because something new is being tried or some new direction is being set.

In addition, a flexible team member can consider different points of views and compromise when needed. He or she doesn't hold rigidly to a point of view and argue it to death, especially when the team needs to move forward to make a decision or get something done. Strong team players are firm in their thoughts yet open to what others have to offer — flexibility at its best.

Shows commitment to the team

Strong team players care about their work, the team, and the team's work. They show up every day with this care and commitment up front. They want to give a good effort, and they want other team members to do the same.

Works as a problem-solver

Teams, of course, deal with problems. Sometimes, it appears, that's the whole reason why a team is created — to address problems. Good team players are willing to deal with all kinds of problems in a solutions-oriented manner. They're problem-solvers, not problem-dwellers, problem-blamers, or problem-avoiders. They don't simply rehash a problem the way problem-dwellers do. They don't look for others to fault, as the blamers do. And they don't put off dealing with issues, the way avoiders do.

Team players get problems out in the open for discussion and then collaborate with others to find solutions and form action plans.

Treats others in a respectful and supportive manner

Team players treat fellow team members with courtesy and consideration — not just some of the time but consistently. In addition, they show understanding and the appropriate support of other team members to help get the job done. They don't place conditions on when they'll provide assistance, when they'll choose to listen, and when they'll share information. Good team players also have a sense of humor and know how to have fun (and all teams can use a bit of both), but they don't have fun at someone else's expense. Quite simply, effective team players deal with other people in a professional manner.

Team players who show commitment don't come in any particular style or personality. They don't need to be rah-rah, cheerleader types. In fact, they may even be soft-spoken, but they aren't passive. They care about what the team is doing and they contribute to its success — without needing a push.

Team players with commitment look beyond their own piece of the work and care about the team's overall work. In the end, their commitment is about winning — not in the sports sense of beating your opponent but about seeing the team succeed and knowing they have contributed to this success. Winning as a team is one of the great motivators of employee performance. Good team players have and show this motivation.

See also:

Inspiring Team Creativity for Business

The Types of Workplace Teams

Differences between Work Groups and Teams

------------------------------

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” ~ Michael Jordan

Strong team players are the backbone of any team. When others fail, these are the people who venture on with strong resolve and persistence, committed to getting the job done. Most people can list the qualities of bad team members without struggling too hard, but do you know what qualities great team players share? (Also read: 10 tips for quality teamwork)

Here are five qualities that make a good team player great:

1. Always reliable. A great team player is constantly reliable day in and day out, not just some of the time. You can count on them to get the job done, meet deadlines, keep their word and provide consistent quality work. With excellent performance, organization and follow-through on tasks they develop positive relationships with team members and keep the team on track.

2. Communicates with confidence. A good team player might silently get the work done but may shy away from speaking up and speaking often. Great team players communicate their ideas honestly and clearly and respect the views and opinions of others on the team. Clear, effective communication done constructively and respectfully is the key to getting heard.

3. Does more than asked. While getting the work done and doing your fair share is expected of good team players, great team players know that taking risks, stepping outside their comfort zones, and coming up with creative ideas is what it’ll take to get ahead. Taking on more responsibilities and extra initiative sets them apart from others on the team.

4. Adapts quickly and easily. Great team players don’t passively sit on the sideline and see change happen; they adapt to changing situations and often drive positive change themselves. They don’t get stressed or complain but are flexible in finding their feet in whatever is thrown their way.

5. Displays genuine commitment. Good team players are happy to work 9-5 and receive their paycheck at the end of the month. Great team players take the time to make positive relationships with other team members a priority and display a genuine passion and commitment toward their team. They come to work with the commitment of giving it 110% and expect others on the team to do the same.

To be a great team player, you don’t have to be extroverted or indulge in self-promotion. In fact, great team players sport all kinds of personalities. You just need to be an active participant and do more than your job title states. Put the team’s objectives above yours and take the initiative to get things done without waiting to be asked. In return you will build positive perception, gain more visibility, and develop influential connections to get ahead in your career. (Also read: 10 tips to be a good team-player)

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