History is replete with the amazing accomplishments of teams: Apollo 13, the survival and rescue of Captain Edwards, sequencing the human genome, and building the atomic bomb, all required near superhuman effort by remarkably focused teams. The ability to work in a team environment is crucial for success in any important endeavor.
But, competition is human nature. There is a thrill that comes from working harder, excelling faster, surpassing your peers and becoming the best. Because of this competitive nature, it can be difficult for some people to become a true team player.
Collaboration with others is invaluable — in school, the workplace and even your personal life. You’ve heard the age-old phrase, “Two heads are better than one.” Teamwork can lead to better outcomes and ideas, higher efficiency, mutual support and a great sense of accomplishment.
So, how can you push past your desire to compete with your peers and instead work side-by-side with them to achieve a common goal?
Here are five ways to excel at being a team player:
- Demonstrate reliability. Can you be a reliable, trustworthy contributor to your team? Prove this by showing up on time to team meetings, meeting your personal deadlines and following through on promises to your fellow team members.
- Listen, listen, listen. Good listeners are essential components to a successful team. Show that you are open to considering other members’ thoughts, ideas and points of view without shutting them down or arguing.
- Be an active participant. Be prepared to your meetings and engage in the conversation. Refrain from texting on your phone or emailing on your laptop during time that should be spent discussing and working with your team.
- Provide constructive criticism. If you disagree with another team member, it is okay to challenge their thinking. Just make sure to approach it in a positive and respectful manner.
- Share openly. Team members should share what they already know about the project and past experience they have with similar projects. Each member should also share his or her special skill sets and knowledge banks that the group might be able to take advantage of.
Regardless of team size, its success and effectiveness depends on the degree of cooperation and collaboration between the members, and the level of harmony they achieve.
“Seek out more and more collaborations,” infamous musician Eric Clapton said to SUCCESS magazine. “This works in any office, in any business. Start with willingness, enthusiasm and an open mind. Talk to co-workers who complement your talent. Kick around ideas. Encourage excellence.”