The Leadership Blog

What Makes Great Teammates Great

accountability business building career goals change culture growth improvement leadership making a positive impact positive solutions problem solving professional growth wisdom work solutions Sep 09, 2023

In sports and at the office these days we tend to hear all about the MVP’s.  Most valuable players tend to get all the attention, but research shows MVP’s get there because they’re surrounded by great teammates who help them excel.  

Today I’m going to share the traits necessary to fill our teams with great teammates.

I recently heard Don Yeager, former Sports Illustrated writer and New York Times bestselling author, speak at my Maxwell Leadership conference.  He taught on this topic and it was profound.

Yaeger shared that great teammates are less concerned about getting praise and more interested in overall team success.  He told the story of the 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series champion catcher David Ross.  Ross changed his bad team member reputation around and made himself invaluable without being the most valuable.  He had been known as a me first player but thanks to some feedback by a general manager who cut him, he focused on developing the skills that made him the ideal teammate. The kind that makes the team better. Ross taught those necessary traits of a great teammate in the training room and demonstrated them at practice and on game days.

Here’s what I find so exciting about the skills he focused on and helped his teammates develop.  ANYONE can create these 16 traits/characteristics.  You don’t have to have exceptional athletic or business ability.  You just need to be intentional.

  1. Humble: Don’t require the spotlight to feel important
  2. Fully Engaged: Be in the moment at all times.
  3. Encouraging: Notice the success of others.
  4. Respected: They command respect and are willing to speak the kind of truth that holds people accountable.
  5. Reliable: Everyone knows what to expect from them.
  6. Problem Solvers: They don’t point fingers, instead they ask, “where do we go now?”
  7. Mentors: They share what they learn and thrive on watching their teammates improve.
  8. Willing to Sacrifice: They’re not above doing the dirty work.
  9. Positive: They look for the good in key situations, especially when others go negative.
  10. Communicators: They seem to always have the right words at the right time.
  11. Relationship-builders:  They build camaraderie with ALL members of the team.
  12. Honest: They’re trusted, and their motives are “team-first.”
  13. Hard Workers: They have an incredible work ethic, preparing for tough tasks excites them.
  14. Always Ready: They remain available to step up and succeed at a moment’s notice.
  15. Competitors: They feel that winning requires nothing less than maximum effort.
  16. Fun: Others want to be around them.

While it’s not always easy to demonstrate these traits every day, it is worth the effort.  When we as leaders model these characteristics and help our staff do the same, we will create our own EXTRAORDINARY organizations that can help our communities shine.