TEAMWORK
  • Communicating information, sharing assignments and working cohesively with the FFL team
  • Appreciating and leveraging the strengths of others, relying on them for help, input and feedback
  • Volunteering to help someone else complete a task without expecting credit for it

HARRINGTON COMMENTARY

What is a “good team player?” I hear that phrase bandied around frequently. From what I can gather, everyone is expected to be one, but what is a good team player? If we are all supposed to be one then we at least deserve to know what it is. A short quiz might help shed some light on the issue.

Which of the following phrases describes a good team player?
(A) Always willing to help others
(B) Always asking others for help

I am guessing that most people will select answer (A), a good team player is always willing to help others. After all, a good team player is someone who can be counted on to jump in and lend a hand. Answer (A) must be the correct choice.

But what about answer (B), a good team player is always asking others for help? This answer has a lot of baggage associated with it, right? The person sounds needy. I mean, seriously, anyone who constantly requires other people’s assistance can’t possibly be a good team player, right? Answer (B) must be the wrong choice.

Which is it? Answer (A) or (B)? Have you made your final choice?

My answer to the question is both* (A) and (B). A good team player is always willing to help others AND is always asking others for help. Let me explain.

In thinking of a good team player, there sometimes seems to be a romantic picture of a gifted individual who is always there, ready to step in at a moment’s notice to help save the day. They are never a burden and they always help. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Personally, it sounds like it would be very gratifying and a nice ego boost if I could be that type of good team player.

But what about the stuff I don’t know? Or the skills I don’t have? There are limits to what I can be good at. If I see myself only as an answer (A) type of good team player, then I don’t ask others for help. I limit myself, my coworkers and my customers from enjoying the benefit of what others can contribute because I am not willing to ask others for help.

Do you see that it takes both helping and being helped to be a good team player? My teammates can’t shine if I never ask them for help. It’s a sad but true fact that most allegedly good team players are only good at giving help, but not receiving it. A truly good team player understands that they can’t go it alone and that they don’t exist solely to help others. Good team players help their teammates by giving them chances to shine, to grow and to use their God-given skills.

Want to be a good team player? The challenge is not only to look for ways to serve and to help others. (You need to do that!) It also entails looking for ways that others can help you. What are your weaknesses? Chances are, if you look to your right or to your left, you may find someone sitting there that has a strength that fits neatly with your weakness. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help. It will make you both better team players.

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*The question about describing a good team player was NOT a trick question. Nowhere did I tell you that you had to only pick one of those answers. The answer “Both” is completely legitimate. Stop thinking inside the box!

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Key Words and Phrases

Reliance and interdependence; Common goals; Shared responsibility; Cooperation; Mutual accountability; Blended strengths; Esprit de corps; Trust in one another.

Opposite Terms

Going it alone; Not trusting others; Not supporting others; Not relying on others.

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