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Thursday, February 28, 2013

There is no "I" in Team. Or, is there?  

I recently lost a dear friend who was by far the best team player I have ever met.  It got me thinking a lot about teams and the real behaviours that should be celebrated.

While technically there is no "i" in TEAM, I think we do a disservice to ourselves and our younger colleagues by not talking more about the role of the individual team player.  In business school and in the workplace, there are both covert and overt displays of competition and ambition.  Don't get me wrong, these are not bad things.  Some of us are competitive, but not in the sense that we feel we need to compete with others.  I, for one, compete with myself.  I push myself to better.   I am also ambitious.  However, I learned early in my career that competing with others doesn't make me a better person.  I also learned that ambition at any cost is not worth it. 

Maybe my thinking comes with age, or experience as I like to think of it, but I don't believe that entirely.  I know many 20 somethings that already know this and they are better for it.  So, that being said, I try to practice each day to be a good team player. I say "practice" because sometimes and some days I am better at it than others.  I believe it is important to take responsibility for my role in the team and therefore, I do see "i"s in team.  Here are some of my favourites:

Image courtesy of

1.  "I" will do the best job I can, each and every day.

2.  "I" will help my colleagues to do the best job that they can do each day.

3.  "I" will find ways to be innovative and bring that to the team.

4.  "I" will work hard to be inclusive, respectful and supportive of each member of my team without bias.

5.  "I" will take actions that will make the team, not just myself, look good to the organization.

6. "I" will not take actions that will hurt or hinder the team, because ultimately I know that it will have more significant ramifications.

These are just some I practice and try to live by each day.  Do you agree or disagree? Are these actions that we should promote as a part of being a good team player? What would you add to the list?


  1. Heather - First of all, let me saw that I am sorry for your loss.

    Secondly, I think this is a great post with a great concept on how individual effort can help drive collective success. I really think it's a matter of alignment. In short, I definitely agree with what you are saying!

    Finally, I'd like to add that this made me think of another possible "I" in "Team." I'm referring to the "I" of "Indispensable." Both the individual and the collective meet when aspiring to become indispensable within an organization. It's an "I" holding a higher sense of subjectivity, but I believe it is quite powerful for motivating people.

    Thanks for the post! Have a great weekend.

    Gustavo Chavez

  2. Thanks Gustavo for your kind words.

    I like "indispensable". That is a great one.

    Have a great weekend yourself. :)