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Are you a highly valued team member?

A good team member has ten characteristics, including being coachable and helping others succeed, writes Paul Thornton.

3 min read


team member

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Team members must have the required knowledge, skills and motivation to perform their assigned roles and help the team succeed.  

Paul B. Thornton

What does it take to be a highly valued team member? I consulted with several college coaches, business executives and team leaders to answer that question. Here is what I learned. A highly valued team member isn’t necessarily the person who scores the most goals. However, they do make many vital contributions to the team’s success. They are the person you want on your team.  

Highly valued team members have many of the following characteristics:

  1. Team focus. They consistently put the team’s needs and goals ahead of their own. Would you rather be the top sales rep or help your team exceed their goals? Many people choose the former. 
  2. Hard workers. They show up prepared and ready to give 100% effort and energy to the task. Most people slack off at times and give less than their best. 
  3. Support the decision. They fully participate in team discussions. Even when they disagree with a decision, they support it. After meetings, they don’t bad-mouth decisions that they disagree with.  
  4. Hold people accountable. They support the team’s rules and values and hold others accountable. When a team member violates a rule, they call them out. That takes a lot of courage and confidence. Most team members fall short in this area.  
  5. Coachable. They are coachable and open to feedback. When receiving negative feedback, they don’t get defensive and shut down, like some other team members may do. 
  6. Teachers and learners. They demonstrate the right balance of being both a teacher and a learner.  As a teacher, they communicate their suggestions clearly and concisely. They don’t give long lectures. As a learner, they ask thoughtful questions to fully understand all aspects of problems and opportunities.   
  7. Help others. They deliver on their action items and offer to help others when needed. Many team members only want to focus on their assignments.   
  8. Strategic and tactical. They are able to add value at both the strategic and tactical levels. Less effective team members are often only proficient in one of these areas.    
  9. Flexible and adaptable. They are flexible and quickly adapt to changing circumstances. Unlike some people who resist even the smallest changes. 
  10. Affirm teammates. They praise and recognize their team members for their efforts and contributions. How often do you praise members of your team? 

It’s very challenging to live up to these standards on a consistent basis. (I know I don’t.) 

How about you?  As a team member, which are your strongest traits? Which trait would you like to strengthen? What’s your plan to make it happen? 

Highly valued team members show up prepared and motivated to help the team succeed. They set a great example for all team members. 


Paul Thornton has coached, led and been a member of over 50 teams during his career. He is also an author of 22 books on leadership, including Leadership Styles,Performance Management for New Managers” and “Is Your Organization Aligned?”

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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