16 Qualities of a Team Player (With Examples and Benefits)
Updated February 3, 2023
Teamwork is an important part of maintaining a successful workflow in many workplaces. For most teams, collaborating and coordinating with others is a necessary part of completing assigned tasks. Knowing how you can help your team accomplish goals efficiently can make you a valuable asset to both coworkers and your employer.
In this article, we explain what it means to be a team player, explore the benefits of being one and list some of the most important qualities and traits of a team player.
What is a team player?
A team player is someone who prioritizes the goals of the team rather than just their interests. Team players often believe the best way to achieve personal success is to help their entire team succeed. For example, a strong team player might volunteer to work late to help their coworkers achieve a goal. They're often loyal, flexible and reliable professionals who prioritize their peers and the group over themselves, meaning they're willing to make personal sacrifices if it leads to a better outcome for everyone.
6 qualities of a team player
Many personal qualities contribute to you being a good team player, and some things you can strive for include:
1. Good listener
A team player listens intentionally. Good listeners always pay attention to their team members' ideas and suggestions. If you're willing to listen to a teammate while working toward a common goal, you may discover they have important insights. Individuals frequently have different perspectives when solving problems and making decisions, so getting input from each team member can be valuable. Team players willing to listen can help the team become more cohesive and effective.
Example: Kwame notices Casey seems irritated during a morning meeting. He seeks her out afterward and learns she has several suggestions for improving the workflow in the office. Her ideas differ from anything the team has tried before, but Kwame listens carefully before making a judgment because he realizes Casey's unique perspective could benefit the office.
Team players can fill whatever role they can to help. Team players aren't stubborn or selfish in assigning roles because they know focusing on themselves can decrease teamwork and lead to worse results. They also realize they might get the particular task they prefer, but they continue to do their best, no matter the situation. Even if they start a project with one responsibility, and the team lead asks them to shift their focus to another role, they embrace the opportunity and continue to work hard.
Example: Elvira prefers to take a leadership role when discussing financial decisions because she has the most experience. However, when her manager asks her to allow a teammate to take charge of the new month's budget, she agrees to take a step back and assumes her new role as a support for her coworker.
3. Aware of others
A team player often knows how other team members might contribute to a project. They know their team well enough to know which tasks might suit which of their coworkers. A team player is also willing to admit when someone else might complete a task more efficiently than they can. While they don't give their work to someone else, they're willing to ask for help from someone they know has more experience or a more specific set of skills.
Example: Brian's adapting to the company's new graphic design software. When his design team is told to create a detailed graphic using the new technology, he asks a junior employee to join him on the project. He knows the newer employee likely will receive more commendation for a good result than he will, but he values the project's success over his desire for recognition.
A team player typically understands their behavior can affect the entire team. Because of this, they're careful to always complete their share of the work efficiently and promptly. They may try to finish their tasks on time to improve the entire team's productivity. A team player tries to fulfill their obligations and is careful to follow through on any promises. They also often take pride in being someone others can count on.
Example: Iman has a great reputation in the newspaper office where she prioritizes being someone her coworkers can trust. She always sees her tasks through to the end and contributes to team projects. Iman always turns her articles in on time, so her editors can finish their edits before office hours end. She's also careful to be on time for every meeting because she knows being late may slow the entire team's productivity. If her supervisor has a task that needs to be done well, she knows she can rely on Iman to do it well.
When team players work as a part of a team, they often try to take full responsibility for their share of the workload. Instead of attempting to pass some of their tasks off to a coworker, team players work hard to ensure they're consistently completing their duties in the workplace. Employers depend on employees to be trustworthy when fulfilling their share of the workload, and these professionals often make being trustworthy a priority and attempt to complete their assignments on time. They know taking responsibility for their share can benefit the entire team.
Example: Ellie's new job is in the customer service department of a travel agency. She spends her days taking calls from clients and prospective customers. She falls behind on her required call quota when she comes into work late after a busy weekend. She knows she could make up an excuse for underperforming or ask one of her coworkers to take some of her clients, but she speaks to her supervisor instead. After she takes full responsibility for being late, her supervisor is happy to help Ellie change her schedule and make up for the lost hours.
A team player often aims to help other team members, using their outgoing personalities to build trust with their peers. They volunteer to contribute their skills or expertise whenever it might benefit the team and take the initiative. These professionals enjoy asking people about their work and whether they could use help, and they then volunteer to help with difficult tasks.
Example: Terry has a lot of practical experience with social media platforms. When he sees a team member struggling to create a company account on a newly released platform, he immediately offers to help. He knows sharing his expertise might help his coworker finish the assignment quickly and move on to other tasks, thus improving the entire team's productivity.
10 traits team players commonly have
Here are some more traits common among team players to help you understand how you can improve your skills:
Open-minded: Being willing to understand new perspectives and admit when you're wrong can benefit the entire team and ensure there are no disagreements.
Positive: Keeping a positive outlook at work can influence others to do the same. This can make the workplace more enjoyable for everyone and improve collaboration.
Accountable: Taking responsibility for any mistakes you make and helping to fix them can help others on the team trust you more because it shows them you're committed to the overall mission.
Professional: Dressing, speaking and acting professionally can help encourage more positive, appropriate work behaviors, and it may make your supervisors and peers more willing to rely on you in a team.
Enjoy learning: Continuing to learn new skills or processes that you can share with your team can help everyone improve their work and complete it more efficiently.
Motivated: Remaining motivated and persuading others to do the same often benefits the team. It can improve accountability for everyone and help maintain productivity.
Empathetic: Understanding when other team members are experiencing an issue and responding respectfully and appropriately can make them respect you more and realize you're more focused on the team than yourself.
Resourceful: Effective team players can maximize their resources and contribute to teams effectively without relying on additional help or taking resources away from someone else.
Direct: Being a team player sometimes means telling other team members something they don't want to hear. Being direct, honest and professional with them may make them more understanding and willing to accept your feedback.
Related: 6 Top Tips for Better Teamwork
Benefits of being a team player
Other than improving a team's productivity and influencing more positive results, being a team player can have many personal and professional benefits, including:
Increase innovation: Engaging with your peers and encouraging them to share their ideas about projects or processes can help you discover new, more efficient ways to do things. This can help you innovate your workflow and allow you to reach your goals more easily.
Encourage personal growth: Actively trying to exhibit the qualities of a team player can let you improve on your weaknesses and become a more well-rounded, skilled professional.
Create new career options: Being a team player often includes assuming leadership responsibilities and viewing projects from management's perspective. This can help you improve your qualifications and allow you to advance in your career.
Reduce burnout: Encouraging teamwork and optimism can help create a more positive workplace and lead to higher professional satisfaction among you and your peers. This can help you avoid burnout and be engaged more consistently at work.
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