5 Signs of a Strong Team Member (What leaders need to look for in a follower)

Businesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binoculars

Effective leaders place strong team members on their team. They know what Phil Jackson wisely said which is, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Each person on the team can play a significant role when it comes to achieving goals and achieving success. Good team members can be the difference maker. This is why a leader should put a lot of effort into finding, recruiting, and placing talented team members in the right roles. However, every current or potential follower or employee are not created equal. Some have the signs of a strong team member while others do not. Here are 5 signs of a strong team member. Keep them in mind when it comes to placing or keeping people on your team.

1. Character and integrity-

Strong team players have unquestionable character and integrity. It can be difficult for a leader to determine if a potential follower or employee has character or integrity, since those qualities reveal themselves in time. When it comes to calculating if the person will make ethical and moral choices take time to review their track record as best you can and rely on your gut. If an action or something they say raises a red flag, trust your instinct.

2. Similar core elements-

In The Leadership Mandate I share that a person’s core elements include their, “beliefs, values, and convictions.” While your personal beliefs (like your political or religious views) can differ, each team members should share similar values and convictions. Your values and convictions are shown through by your actions, behaviors, and choices which can either positively or negatively impact the team. Several examples of the values and convictions they have include: being honest, collaborating, working hard, dedication, possessing a positive attitude, and making ethical choices. All of your team members should share similar values and convictions.

3. Possesses influence-

Strong team members have established influence with their peers, leader, and customers. It might not be the same amount of influence as other people in the organization (like those on the executive team) but they have a moderate amount, especially with those they are consistently in contact with. Enough for those around them respect the person enough to trust and consider their ideas, opinion, or thoughts.

4. The willingness to learn-

Leaders want people who are willing to grow and learn. The people who are teachable and have a desire to retain any new information pertaining to their role or which will allow them to gain competence. When a leader is able to train and equip those on their team without resistance the entire team becomes stronger. Make sure those you place or have on your team have a desire to learn and positive attitude about growing themselves.

5. A history of delivering results-

Strong team members consistently deliver results. There is a difference between someone who is putting in the energy, effort, and work to deliver results and a person who is consistently or deliberately not making an effort or successfully delivering results. The people who are not competent enough to or just not putting in the effort to deliver results negatively affect the entire team and the overall organization. A leader should determine if they need to place the person in a role which will fit them better or if they should remove the person from the team.

Questions: How are you striving to become a strong team member? What qualities do you look for in your team members?

Subscribe to Dan Black on Leadership to receive fresh leadership content delivered to you inbox (2-3 times a week). PLUS two free quote books. All you need to do is to enter your email in the box below then push “Subscribe”:

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

22 thoughts on “5 Signs of a Strong Team Member (What leaders need to look for in a follower)

  1. Thanks for this, Dan. Something else that goes beyond collaboration is being generously helpful. I’m not sure how to put that in a succinct single word, but working with helpful people on the team is a big influence on a team. Thanks Dan!

  2. These are all very important qualities, Dan. It strikes me how much determining their existence happens over time, and adjustments are made toward a person’s followership level based on how these show up in their lives. These qualities also all fit into what my pastor calls “alacrity.” I wrote about that word, which is new to many people, in my most-recent post on my blog. Alacrity and the qualities you describe here are definitely intertwined.

  3. I agree with Paul. This is a great post! I particularly like the person’s past results are only about 20% of the equation. Results are always important, but I think too many times a team is compromised by one person having a “superstar” mentality. There are always costs to having a results driving team member that doesn’t have the other 4 attributes.

  4. It’s helpful when people do what they’re supposed to, quietly handle any issues w/o hammering teammates, and do it without showboating or grabbing attention. Do a great job, celebrate success, and move on to the next project.

  5. Excellent points, Dan. And I think in the perfect order. I strive toward the same things and seek them in others. Maybe that’s why we get along so well!

  6. Very excellent points. Here’s one I’d like to add. A good team member knows when to take the lead and when to get out of the way. I’ve noticed that some team members want to be the leader all the time whether they’re the best one to lead at the time or not. Sometimes other people have more experience and knowledge on a topic and should be leading the way. Know when to lead and when to get out of the way.

    • Fantastic point, what you describe is an art. To know when to lead and when to follow (let your team take the lead). Great teams know how to do this. Thank you for adding your wisdom.

  7. Great points…very thorough.
    I love that you mention being teachable. If someone isn’t teachable it’s really hard to work with them. That goes in line with humility and being willing to not only admit wrongdoing but also asking for help and knowing limitations.
    Since before my son was born I’ve prayed asking God to help him have a teachable spirit, an openness to learning.
    I think this is very important…like all the qualities you’ve mentioned. They are all things I value and strive to improve upon in my own life.

  8. I think along with #4 goes the general thrust of being proactive. I think team members function best when they are exerting energy into seeing problems and coming up with solutions rather than just passively going through the motions.

    • Great thoughts, Loren! Being proactive is so crucial. It allows us to gain influence and achieve great results. Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts.

  9. Dan, I like your 4th point. It’s for me one of the most important things for choosing the right follower. Also, the follower should be a good communicator. He doesn’t have to be the best, but he should be socially intelligent and great at communicating.