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After a recent sporting event, I heard a few commentators talking about one of the players and discussing if he was a “team player”. I began to dissect that statement. How can you be on a team and not be a team player? After all, I am sure that he goes to all of the team meetings, he is probably on time, has a significant role to play on the team, how could he not be considered a team player?

I started thinking about how we as leaders often recruit and build our team with the most qualified and the best team members but could it be that we still have team members that are not “team players”?

Just think about any sports team and all that they need to do be part of the team. Just a few of the things that I can think of are an official joining of the team, team meetings, having a leader, learning their part and then perfecting their role. You could also add dressing alike, but I am sure that you get the picture. They can do all of this and still not be a “team player.”

Now just think about your team. I am sure that each person on the team has been chosen. It could have been for experience or maybe for potential, but if you are on a team, you were selected. Next, you have probably been involved in more than one team meeting. It could be for vision casting or to solve a problem but with every team, there are meetings. Every team also has a leader, that might be you or it might be someone else, but I am sure that that position is not vacant. We could go through the rest of the list, but you get the picture.

So the question remains, is it possible for someone to go through all of this “stuff” and not be a team player? If all of this stuff does not make a team player, what is the variable that changes a person from on the team to team player? I think that I have found the answer by listening to the interviews on sports radio. It all boils down to one component that a team player has that is not possessed by all teammates.

That one thing is the heart of caring for everyone else on the team. What these sports reporters were referring to when they say that he is not a “team player” is that they were only out for themselves. They are on the team, and I am sure that they care at some level about the others wearing their logo, but, in the end, they are only out for themselves.

As you think about your team or teams that you have been on, does anyone come to mind? I am sure that you have worked with or served with very talented people that were only on the team for their benefit. It could be for advancement or even just for a passion that they have, but looking out for the team and making the entire team successful was not their priority.

As leaders, we need to be willing to evaluate our teams and look for those that are not team players. We need to have the courage to sit down with them and make tough decisions. In some cases, we can refocus their attention to the team but often the team would be better off with a less talented person focused on the success of the team instead of their own.

One of the challenges that you should try this week is to evaluate your team. Is your team a group of talented individuals or do you truly have a team. Do you have stars that are not team players? What are you going to do about it?