This article is based on 10 Traits of The Indispensable Team Member – Written by Neal Whitten, PMP
What are the behaviours and attributes that team members need to ensure that they perform at their personal best and contribute significantly to the team’s overall optimal performance? In other words, what makes a team member valuable and indispensable?
This article identifies a set of 10 key behaviours and traits that every leader would like to see in each of their team members. While there are many more characteristics of great team members, this article touches on 10 that we see as intrinsically important to highly effective teams.
Let’s now look at the behaviours and characteristics of what makes an indispensable team member, why not check yourself against these as we work through the list.
- Participate fully
Voluntarily speak up in meetings and get-togethers. Contribute ideas and suggestions, even if they may be unconventional. Often, thinking out of the box brings the team to the best solution. Your opinion is valuable and can help identify or move an issue closer to resolution. Be willing to both ask and answer questions.
- Be truthful
Be honest and timely when revealing your progress and issues. When you make a mistake, admit to it and take accountability. When you are faced with making a commitment, make only commitments that you know you can deliver on.
- Be reliable
Meet your commitments. Always do what you say you are going to do and when you said you would do it. A team is only as strong as its weakest link—don’t be a weak leak. Deliver quality work consistently and demonstrate personal pride in fulfilling your commitments.
- Maintain a positive attitude
Adopt a can-do spirit. Be thankful for and even look forward to the challenges and opportunities before you. Place a constructive view on issues – try to always see the positives aspects of a situation no matter how challenging it is. Don’t take or make things personal.
- Focus on understanding the problem and moving towards solutions
The most professionally mature team members do not engage in finger-pointing. Instead, they focus on getting to grips with the problem at hand, and moving forward to a solution. Support and work with your teammates, not against them. Recognise that we all make mistakes and that we need to learn from them and not repeat the same mistakes.
- Practice being proactive
Don’t just focus on the task at hand, also look at the tasks coming up to help ensure you and your team’s readiness. Make it a standard practice to think one or more steps ahead.
- Share knowledge and experience
Yes, knowledge is power. But the best performers give it away—they don’t hoard it. They recognise the benefit of sharing knowledge and expertise and how it can benefit the team as a whole. This behaviour helps to strengthen the team and raises the member’s own value and reputation in the process.
- Demonstrate personal initiative
Practice self-reliance when appropriate. Require minimal leadership. Ensure you understand your assignment and domain of responsibility. If you are unsure about taking action, then seek appropriate counsel. Make things happen.
- Practice continuous improvement
Seek ways to continually improve your skills and to streamline and simplify the processes and procedures that you and your team engage in. Become and remain the subject matter expert in your chosen domain. Be open and accepting of constructive criticism. Don’t just correct a problem; seek to correct the process that allowed the problem to occur. Encourage feedback on your performance. Adapt to change.
- Promote team success
Place the team first. See yourself as there to serve your team to the best of your ability. Show that you care about the welfare of the team and its success. Look out for the team as if its success is defined by your actions each day. Look for ways to make the team and its leader look good.
This list could be a great starting point for team discussion as each trait is described and examples shared to reinforce the benefit to each member and the team as a whole. Of course, other traits can be added and discussed. I cannot overstate the importance of a team embracing a set of traits—shared values—that can serve to bond and strengthen the team members along with their journey.
Team members who are tenacious and diligent in demonstrating these behaviours and actions will serve as outstanding role models for other members. There’s nothing better than an example to inspire and spur the members of a team to be their best.
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