Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How to be a good team member

Leadership is often discussed in terms of how to motivate your team, the principles of leadership, and all the other skills and traits that make a good leader. But, one of the most important skills of a leader is actually how to be a good team member. In other words, how to be led. This is the first (key) step in becoming an effective leader.

A bad team member really affects the esprit-de-corps of the whole team. This can lead to:
  • reduced productivity
  • an unhealthy work environment
  • high attrition rates
  • negative cliques
  • favoritism
  • etc
People who are bad team members, will become awful leaders.

So how do you work towards becoming a good team member? Follow these simple guidelines:
  • mind your manners, treat your fellow team members in a respectful manner
  • admit your mistakes, and learn from them;
  • do the right thing for the project;
  • comply with the direction set by your team leader;
  • be a positive influence on your team;
  • accept constructive feedback;
  • help your fellow team members;
  • be transparent about your status;
  • be honest about your abilities.
In reality, these could almost all be summed up by one, "Do not do unto others as you would expect they should do unto you."

Nothing in here mentions that you must mindlessly follow the directions of your project leader in an unthinking drone like manner. Just realize that there is a time and a place to question the direction of your team leader. In front of the customer, or on team call is not the time or place to do so.

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