Close this search box.



TEAMING: Why No One Teaches How to Be a Good Team Member?

Did you ever noticed that we teach leaders in countless growth programs, workshops, or mentoring processes how to be a great leader, and we almost never teach employees how to be great team members? To follow the TEAMING idea? Why is that? Is it more important to have qualified leaders than people who know how to work well together? We know it’s not true. A part of successful leadership is to have a team that has an ability to cooperate effectively, ideally to like and understand each other as people. During my post-grad studies in Transition Management area, one of the lecturers brought to the class a book named “Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in Knowledge Economy” by Amy C. Edmondson. And while having a conversation about the teaming, people, communication and how it creates great (or not so great) organizations, I’ve started to wonder how all those dots are connected. How one thing influences the other and makes success or failure at the end of the day? How to think about TEAMING: is it even the real thing? What is TEAMING? TEAMING is a mindset. Based on Amy’s book, TEAMING is more about “being” with others in a certain way than “doing” things. Of course, the behavior is an important part of the whole idea, so we can tell that “behaving” is “doing”. But it’s not the point. The point is that TEAMING covers the way of working, behaving, making decisions in work environment where we don’t have a luxury of a stable team structures. Where individuals, teams, departments, and projects need to work together somehow, while the circumstances change all the time. So, TEAMING brings to the table collaboration based on an eagerness to learn, be better every day and communicate as well as possible, despite the constant change that never ends. And it never will, let’s be honest about it. Do we ever think about the qualities of a good team member? We for sure can list very quickly the qualities of a good manager within 30 seconds. But how about team members? Recently, I did this exercise with one group of leaders that I facilitated the workshop for. I asked them to give 2-3 things that they believe are qualities of a great team member. The results came up like this. So, as we can see, there are a lot of things connected with taking responsibility and do the job, but mostly there are things connected to “being” with others. A person who shares knowledge, taking care of other team members, listen, be brave, mentor others etc. Not many “transactional” elements are there as we can see. Interesting, isn’t’ it?   How to lead a TEAMING process? As leaders, we have a lot of influence (more that we think we have) on how the work environment looks like for our people. Pretty often we don’t use this power because we don’t believe that it would work, we don’t know how to do it, or we are afraid that we’ll get different outcome from what we aim for by certain actions. We don’t believe that we can actually change something. Leading in TEAMING means using the mindset that will allow people to be a better team member. It consists of three things: A leader is responsible for creating a workspace for people to thrive. It’s all we need to do. Why don’t we teach people how to be great team members? It’s not very intuitive to start from teaching people about being a good team member. Definitively more classical way is to teach leaders how to be great and lead others successfully. But that way, we put all responsibility on the leader’s shoulders. I’m not saying that leader don’t need to grow, have certain set of skills, behaviors or mindset. But when we think about improving the ability of being a great team member, we divide the responsibility into all people that making a team: manager AND team members. Both parties need to participate in the process of team creation: it influences the level of engagement, being in control and a part of something more than just my own scope. Why don’t we do it more often? Maybe because it requires a mindset and approach shift, a creation of a new one to cover the different perspective. And it can be difficult, sometimes going far away into the stretch zone and recreate the growth options we have for people in the organization. What do we need to make that shift? Wouldn’t it be more efficient, nice, and engaging to have more than one people who takes care of different team building elements? Imagine that we all are taking part in building the environment where people are highly motivated, performing very well, create space to give different ideas and have sparing partners to discuss them? Where we learn from each other, share knowledge and the best ways of working? Sounds pretty cool to me. And for you?

Read More »