Tag Archives | team building

Can You be a Leader and a Teammate?

Photo courtesy of myheimu

When it comes to working collaboratively in teams, keeping everyone on task and maintaining productivity levels are important responsibilities.  Without a leader, most teams would end up as vacillating mobs of confusion, resulting in wasted time and fruitless efforts. As a general rule, highly successful teams are led by ambitious and motivating leaders.

Most of us are quite familiar and comfortable with letting others fly the plane (proficient pilots preferred).  Some of us ride in coach with others making it up to first class. A select few possess the right skills and end up as co-pilot. Moving toward the cockpit is by and large the direction of choice.

If we go by that logic, what happens when the captain decides to switch on auto-pilot while he ventures back to first class, or maybe even coach? Can the leader be an effective member of the team?

To be a leader and a teammate simultaneously takes a person who possesses a specific set of characteristics. No leader works totally separate from his team, and vice versa, but a leader who either has to or wants to do some of the ”grunt work” must be absolutely certain he maintains his authority while doing so, or retaining his leadership role will be impossible.

At times it can be unsettling for team members when their leader suddenly wants to be an active participant rather than a supervisor. As leaders are often (but not always) Type-A personalities, they can be a bit overwhelming in the team environment, where the rest of the teammates are more even-keeled.

If you are in a situation where you must switch between the two roles of leader and teammate, it is crucial to remember several key points in order to do so swimmingly.

  • Always keep the team’s goals in mind rather than your own personal agenda.
  • Show your team members respect at all times. In order to eventually return to your role as ‘leader’ you must be careful not to lose the support of your team. Disrespecting someone is a surefire way to lose any respect they at one time held for you.
  • True teammates will ‘take one for the team’ when they have to. When you work as a teammate, be sure that you are willing to do everything you would expect other members of the team to do.
  • When you work as team leader, keep your interactions soft and keep the environment collegiate.  This will allow you to move easily between the two roles.

Keep in mind that the best leaders don’t create good followers – they create other leaders because they lead by example. To be an extraordinary leader means keeping your focus on the success of the team and doing what it takes for the team to thrive. If you keep your eyes on the runway, you’ll be able to keep your team on track for a safe and sound landing every time, whether you’re in the cockpit or sitting in the very back row of ‘coach.’

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7 Steps to Becoming a Better Team Player

Photo courtesy of Gavin Llewellyn

As we were coordinating a recent event here at the TinyShift offices, there were quite a few details that we had to iron out in short order. Just like our readers, we’re learning everyday, and this time we were learning how to produce a pretty substantially sized project by working together as a team.

Whether you’re just starting your self-improvement journey or if you’ve been walking down the path for awhile now, remember that being a good team player is a skill that you’ll use in multiple areas of your life. Make sure you can hold your own when it comes to the areas listed below, and you’ll see the payoff in your work life, your friendships, your family life, and even your love life.

  1. Effective communication skills – Speak your mind and know when it’s your turn to listen to others’ ideas.
  2. Unique knowledge base  - Bring a skill to the table that your team values, and keep honing it so that your value doesn’t depreciate.
  3. Dependability – A functional team needs all of its members to do their part well and on time.
  4. Team loyalty - If you don’t believe in your team and the projects you’re working on, you might as well quit now.
  5. Strong work ethic – Don’t let anyone walk all over you, but be willing to push your limits when you’re asked to.
  6. Openness to new ideas – A person who is ‘always right’ will never make a good team member.
  7. Willingness to ask for help – While they need you to be able to pull your load, being part of a team means you all help eachother anytime you can.

If you think about it – all of the skills or attributes listed above apply to many relationships in your life. Sure, we usually associate working well as a team with our professional lives, but truth be told, old fashioned teamwork is what makes the world go ’round. And when there’s a lack of teamwork, chaos generally ensues in short order.

Keep your team-building skills on the burner at all times. Let them simmer, but make sure there’s a steady fire under them. That way, you’ll never have to attend a team event empty handed, and you’ll be sure to impress everyone!

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Can Being a Team Player Actually Make You Dumber?

Office Party
Photo courtesy of Jason Pratt

You might think this is the setup for an elaborate Jersey Shore joke, but according to recent research from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, the social dynamics of small group settings, such as office meetings or get-togethers with friends, can actually affect cognitive function negatively, making you behave less intelligently than you would if you were on your own and not receiving social feedback.

While it may be tempting to use this as an excuse for your behavior at the Christmas party last year, a more relevant issue is how your performance at work or on personal projects could be affected by the subtle dynamics of the group you’re working with. According to the study, group members exhibit decreased cognitive function when they feel concerned about their social status and ranking in the group. The stress of worrying about how you are being perceived can temporarily interfere with your ability to solve problems and make decisions. That interference goes away when you stop receiving social feedback cues that you interpret as being indicative of your standing in the group.

Employers often seek out people who are eager to work as part of team, but could that tactic be backfiring on them? Do you feel that group situations bring out the best in you, or do think you do your best work on your own? Do you think there is a way to create more of an even playing field in group settings so that people are less likely to be made aware of differences in social standing?

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