The term "team player" is so often used as an essential professional attribute that it’s become a well-worn cliché — but that doesn’t make it any less of a valuable skill to have if you want to be successful at work, regardless of your occupation or industry.
Being able to work well with others and being regarded by your colleagues as an effective team player can lead to a wealth of promising career opportunities. People will tend to seek you out when assembling teams for projects (which are more likely to be successful when the members of your team work well together), peers and superiors will turn to you for collaborations that can enhance your visibility and profile, you’ll increase your chances of impressing your colleagues and others will want to support you and celebrate your success as you climb your personal career ladder.
Although some folks seem to be able to work well with others no matter what the situation or mix of personalities they find themselves in, for others it’s not quite that simple. Not everyone is a natural team player, but everyone can become one with a little effort.
Yes, your work environment and the nature of the work you do will go a long way toward dictating what makes an effective team player in your world, but there are some fundamental personal qualities that most! effective team players seem to possess — and use — to their advantage when opportunities to collaborate arise. If you have the following three qualities, be sure to use them to your advantage at work and keep them polished and sharp.
If not, consider building these skills to maximize your chances of achieving success:
Great team players typically have an abundance of patience in their reserves, which comes in really handy when juggling the diverse personalities and work styles of team members.
It can be easy to get frustrated in collaborative work settings, especially when one (or more than one) team member is tough to work with or tries to exert unwanted control over the group, or when the project doesn’t go as well as initially planned.
However, those who are known to be effective team members have the patience and self-control to keep themselves and others calm, cool and collected, which helps to keep colleagues and work projects on track.
A close relative of patience, flexibility allows team players to roll with the punches when things get volatile or tumultuous during a group effort at work and can pivot effectively when a project takes an unexpected turn or requires a course correction.
While some folks lose control when things don’t go according to plan during the life cycle of a project, those who are good team players are flexible enough to swerve when change is needed — without putting added stress or strain on their team members.
Reliability is where the "rubber meets the road" on a project, and effective team members consistently deliver in this area.
When collaborating on a project, they are well aware of what they are responsible for and make sure that they deliver as planned and on schedule, allowing their team members to focus on their tasks without having to worry about weak links, with the end result being that the collaborative effort becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
If you set your sights on strengthening your skills in the areas mentioned here, you will improve your ability to work with others and gain a reputation as someone people can count on in any collaborative situation, big or small.
Eric Titner has been an editor and content creator for more than a decade. His primary professional focus has been on education- and career-related topics. He currently lives in New York City.