5 Characteristics of an Excellent Team Member

I love team dynamics and organizational structures. I have written many times about what makes a healthy team, my expectations of team members, and elements to build health into your team. I’m not sure I’ve talked specifically about the characteristics I believe make up excellent team members.

Here are 5 characteristics of an excellent team member:

Needs very little direction – Catches on quickly, learning the leader’s expectations, having confidence in his or her ability, and knowing the vision of the organization well enough to make routine decisions with little or no input from the leader.

Asks specific questions when unclear of an assignment - He or she doesn’t ask general questions, that require full explanations, but rather attempts to figure out the issue on his or her own enough to ask specific questions. This saves everyone time and speeds progress.

Needs very little supervision – An excellent team member follows through on what he or she committed to do with limited oversight.

Recognizes results as part of the reward – While fair compensation is necessary for the health of any team and most leaders can improve on giving praise, the excellent team player does the work to see the results of a project done well, not exclusively for recognition.

Considers the interests of the entire team - Excellent team members look out for good of the whole team…the entire organization. He or she wants what is best for everyone, even if that means they have to personally sacrifice for the win of the team.

I realize, and fully expect to hear, that to be an excellent team member requires an excellent team environment and leader. I can somewhat agree, but not sure I do completely. I have known people who perform excellently on a dysfunctional team. I’d welcome your thoughts on this.

I’m confident there are plenty more characteristics to add to my list. I’d love to hear from you.

In your experience, what makes an excellent team member?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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29 thoughts on “5 Characteristics of an Excellent Team Member

  1. Everything you said is on target. The "fair compensation" statement could be an entire new article unto itself. Some workplaces regularly reward employees with pay raises. It is their culture. Other workplaces are miserly.

  2. Ron, great list. As for serving a poor leader, I think great team members serve out of personal responsibility and don’t let bad leaders impact their work.

  3. Enjoying these recent posts! I think one I would add is that an excellent team not only does their job, and does it with little supervision, but they are also continuosly learning and looking for ways to learn about ways to improve in their ministry and learn from others who are doing the same thing. They don't need to be given a book or sites to read but go searching for them and learn. That's the main one I think of as I hear often that a leader is a reader, and in a way all team members are leaders, so had to add it!
    Twitter: tijuanabecky

  4. Great team carefully weigh ideas. In most organizations and churches, it is the team that is responsible for implementing and seeing ideas to success.There are lots of ideas, but few are worth the energy and effort of the team. Since it is teams that implement ideas…they should carefully examine ideas.

  5. I love the last one. In my first five years of youth ministry, I rarely considered the whole. The senior minister I work with now taught me how to put the needs of the whole over my individual area and I enjoy my job much more.

    What qualities in a team leader do you think help cultivate a team that fits this list?

  6. Have to agree with Artie but would expand to say appropriately gives credit to others and takes blame for failure. Could possibly be folded in with "Considers Interests of Entire Team"

  7. We practice mutual supervision. Most people just accept "needs little supervision" as obvious and, to a degree, absolute. To me, it's not black and white. One of my best team members requires a lot of supervision. Together, we accomplish amazing things – more than either one of us could accomplish alone. Another team member requires little supervision and accomplishes amazing things. Just because a team member requires supervision do not make them less "excellent".

  8. Great post, Ron. I would agree with the characteristics you listed and add one – that the team member is NICE. Not exactly a buzz-worthy trait perhaps, but one of the primary aspects we look for at CCB when considering a candidate. Many things can be taught but someone that knows how to be a good team member and is enjoyable to be around – polite, thoughtful, kind, etc. You can train for many other things but you're either nice or you're not.

    • That's a good one. Very important that you like the people with whom you work…and they like you…That starts with being nice.

  9. I would add. "They take responsibility for failure." It's far to easy to pass of or over a failure. A great team member doesn't blame anyone else, they admit to it, and learn from it.

  10. My add-ons to your list:

    – Single minded in team's mission
    – Creative and innovative in execution of tasks
    – Being authentic and not acting phony
    – Submitting to supervisors
    – Not grumbling or murmuring about the negatives
    – Always being part of solution and not the problem