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How to Be a Good Team Member

Updated on April 30, 2014
The Thunderbirds USAF Flight Drill Team
The Thunderbirds USAF Flight Drill Team | Source

Good Team Members Are Important

At work, at school, on a committee, or in a club or volunteer organization, you will likely find yourself as a member of a team at some point in time. Work teams are becoming increasingly more popular in the world of work.

In schools, youth are finding more and more assignments given them that must be done as a team project, with all members receiving the same grade, regardless of the individual effort.

What does this all mean, exactly, and how should you contribute to a team?

A Solid Team Pulls Together

Characteristics of a Good Team Member

There are different sorts of teams and two types are dominant:

1) Vertical teams and

2) Horizontal teams.

The vertical team is a hierarchy with a pecking order with the boss at the top. This is a team in which the upper tiers give the instructions and the lower order employees or participants follow them. It does not seem like a team at the bottom of the hierarchy, but it is a team, because every member of this team is important. Hopefully, the upper tiers listen to the input and ideas of the lower order players and major projects are accomplished with good results. One tier of participants out of step can stop the whole production, as in an assembly line.

The horizontal team is the type more people will likely accept as a team structure. This is a group of people on similar levels of status and authority, although supervisors can be on the teams as well as subordinates and outside consultants.

Regardless of the type of team at work, it is useful for team members to display and embrace these characteristics:

Mercury 1 Team
Mercury 1 Team

Different Kinds of Teams

Integrity and Trust.

If team members are not honest with others and themselves, then the project is doomed. Teams must be thoroughly trustworthy and able to trust others as well. A team leader especially must be able to sense insecurity and ingenuineness. Members and the rteam leader must be dependable and able to discuss topics and issues freely with a mind toward solving problems and delivering an outstanding project result.

A belief, ala Star Trek®, that "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

The team effort must come before any team member's own personal or professional agenda in the organiztion or group during the project. Members must commit to people ini general and have a desire to support and serve one another, the organization, and their end customer or client.

Respect for Authority.

Team members and the team leader must respect one another. Members must also accept the role of the leader openly and supportively. All should be polite and courteous to customers, clients, and others served by the project as well. There should be no gossip about team members oir the rteam leader withitn the team or outside of it with others. Gossip is ugly and make the gossiper look ugly as well.

Solid Competence.

All projects require certain skills. If team members do not have the required skills, they must be trained or replaced in the business world. Outside of work, it is not useful to volunteer for a team requiring certain skills if one is not qualified to serve and there is not enough time to learn.


Readiness to Share Knowledge and Ideas

Team members should contribute openly, with integrity and take care about others' feelings when communicating. There should be no competition that will destroy the project and no attention-getting behaviors. A team member freely contributes time, energy, and enthusiasm.

Readiness to take personal responsibility for some element of the team's current project.

These folks do not hide within a crowd in order to avoid work. They accept assignments or step forward and ask for them. They will encourage others as well.

Productive Contribution.

Good team members support the team leader with suggestions for and new ideas. This can lead to the leadership being shared later with those that participate more fully.


Teams allow individual skills and giftings to shine and be understood and used. The team leader and the other members want any single member to be energetic and eager to participate in the project at hand.


Follow Through and Delivering One's Commitments.

This person does not call in sick the day before an assignment for the team project is due. Members must commit to the success of the team. If they agree to carry out tasks, then they must do so. If anyone does not, the other members will lose confidence in the slacker. If there is a problem, then the person who is having difficulty in meeting their assignments must admit it and ask for help before it is too late.

Productive Interpersonal Skills.

Effective communication is vital. Team members must be talented in listening, writing, and oral language skills. Conflict handling and negotiating skills are becoming more and more important in any group.

Welcome Constructive Feedback.

A useful team member asks for, accepts feedback, and readily works for continuous improvement.


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    • ROB AND STEPHANIE profile image

      ROB AND STEPHANIE 9 years ago from Higfhland Park

      hey there its nice reading about your site! please sign up for my fan club too.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Thanks for the comments!

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Great hub on team work and very important for educators too. I think new teachers could get some good ideas from reading your hub.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Hi SweetiePie, maybe they could. Perhaps teachers have curriculum teams in the schools and other types of teams as well. That might be very useful.

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 9 years ago from Texas

      I think one of the big overlooked advantages of sports in school these days is the fact that it puts our young people in an environment that teaches them about being a part of a team.

      This skill is critical in so many environments, and it seems to be lacking so much of the time.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      You're exactly right about that I think, john54. Sports that have been cut need to be put back into the schools, for boys an dgirls alike. I remember in elementary school they only taught teamwork to the boys. When I won a running race, I was told it did not count because I was a girl. Sports for all and teamwork training would lift the economy of the nation as well as individual and company success. 

      Thaks for your observations. Always glad to have them!

    • sri krsna profile image

      sri krsna 9 years ago from Philippines

      Nice advise for those who are working.... This will serve as a very very good topic for them....

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      sri krsna - thanks so much for your insight!

      Kids here in one suburb don't do much in the way of team work other than little league sports at times, but after the 5th grade - BAM! In the 6th grade, they have their own 6th grade building of about 200 kids and they are split into 3 teams and given team colors. Their grades depend in some parts of some subjects on the over all TEAM GRADE! Then in classes, they are put into teams for projects and they all get the same grade per team. Sometimes only one member does all the work because they don't want to fail the assignment. WHEW!

      There must be better ways to teach kids about teamwork!

    • Andy Xie profile image

      Andy Xie 9 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Awesome hub, very thorough. Knowing how to be a good team member, I believe, is one of the most important skills one can learn. I grew up in China, and we were not exposed to these "group projects" at school. But I think working in groups is an important experience for children, which is why I'm glad my daughter has a lot of group assignments, she plays team sports... etc.

      Welcoming constructive feedback (and giving it) for example, is reallly important because it lets you be better at what you do. Sometimes the truth isn't always the most pleasant thing to hear, but it tells you what you can improve on, which is at least a good thing to hear.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      I think you are very right, Andy Xie! Some group assignments can be good experiences in many way.

      When I saw the first episodes of the first season of "Survivor" I said, "That's just like a work." and I could not watch more more.

    • profile image

      Debby 8 years ago

      Great hub, Patty. We all need to work as a team to accomplish tasks.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      Thanks, Debby - teams are great when they are working correctly.

    • gjcody profile image

      gjcody 8 years ago

      Good hub and great incite ..we need more team effort to get any job done. I have tried to show my grandchildren the results of team effort cleaning up in the evening and setting the table for supper.

      Thanks for putting all of this into a hub best to you!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      That's certainly a good example to teach at home. Thanks for the input!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      I think that you just wrote the bible on teamwork. I see where very few implement mainly for selfish reasons. This is an excellent piece that I'm going to return and visit a few more and might even print out for future reference.

      Thank you.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      thanks for the comments, RGraf. I think teams can be very productive and effective. Unfortunately, some managers consider it teamwork when they require one person to do all the work. So, that concept must be changed in the future.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      Intersting Hub - just one thought, that a team is the opposite of a hierarchy. In a team all members have equal status, equal rights of input and equal demands are made of themk. They share accountability and responsibility. In a hierarchy the top dog makes the rules and takes the rap. So I don't think a hierarchy can be a team- they are on opposite ends of a continuum. Otherwise we just dilute the concept of teamwork, which is actually far more demanding than working in a hierarchy. In a hierarchy the person at the top will tell others what to do and they have to get on with it. Of course there can be teams within a hierarchical organisational structure - that is a different matter.

      One of the most popular definitions of a team is "A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable." (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993). No hierarchy could be held "mutually accountable."

      This dilution of the team concept is what my (much) more famous namesake Douglas McGregor had in mind when he said Most teams aren't teams at all but merely collections of individual relationships with the boss. Each individual vying with the others for power, prestige and position.

      In addition to job- or function-related skills teams demand very high levels of interpersonal skills from their members if they are to be effective and not just remain a group of individuals.

      Thanks for an interesting topic.

      Love and peace


    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      However, the "Vertical Team" hierarchy is a standard practice and I don't know how to change that across the workplace. I suppose it could work in certain instances, but many workers feel that it's torture at the bottom.

      Thanks for your comments!

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image

      Ultimate Hubber 7 years ago

      Nice article this is. I feel bad about not having read it before. Really a help. Let me confess that I haven't been a good team member but when it comes to leading a team, I am good at it.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      Hi, Ultimate Hubber -- I recall NASA personnel and various management training insitutes' people in news and publications state that one needs to be an effective team member before one can be an effective team leader. I have seen this work in real life this way - the leader is SUCH an effective team member that he/she rises to the top of the pack very quickly for his/her vision and "difference" from the rest. In some instances though, I think such a person is discriminated against for being "too effective." What do you think?

    • profile image

      Lake Ozark Vacation Rentals 7 years ago

      Team work is essential these days. Great hub!

    • betteryou profile image

      betteryou 7 years ago from London UK

      Thanks for sharing how team members can work together effectively. A very nice hub.

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