Being a Team Player Shouldn't be a Weakness

Posted on 29th May 2015

A headline in today's news caught my eye. The article was in a political context discussing a party who had just performed very badly in an election. The party leader is now, predictably, coming in for a lot of criticism. The headline said 'Politician A (one of the key players) disagreed with Politician B (the leader) but was too much of a team player to voice concerns'.

I am not naming names because this is not a political blog, it's a blog about team building and teamwork. The message in this headline is one that you often hear in business, as well as politics. The idea is that in order to be a team player you have to concede, throw away your principles and get behind the leader regardless of your own point of view. This is absolute nonsense.

High performing teams, which is what we are interested in, do not operate in this way. They have time and space to make their views known and they have the security, born out of mutual respect, to say what is on their minds even if they disagree with the leader. Otherwise what is the point of having a team? Why not just have one leader and some puppets? High performing teams collaborate.

I do not agree with the phrase team player being used in this context. That behaviour is not that of a team player but of a weak link who brings no value to the team. Let's not forget that the team in question had just lost and are now in the process of tearing themselves apart by being wise after the event and distancing themselves from the scapegoat. Losing sucks, you see this sort of thing all the time. 

Find out more about our Outstanding Teams programme so you can make sure that yours is a high performing team that avoids all of this nonsense.

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