The most important measure of how good a game I played was how much better I’d made my teammates play
– Bill Russell, Retired NBA Player
Now that’s a quote that precisely describes how a team member should be. It applies not just to sports teams, but also to the teams in organisations. There is at least one person in every team who is considered completely indispensable: they happen to be a hard worker, and all the other team members know that they can turn to them to get things done with efficiency, accuracy, and speed.
It’s natural for everyone to want to be that person. But how, exactly, did that person get to where he or she is today? There are few things that these people have in common which make them prominent: here are some of the qualities to focus on if you want to become an indispensable team member yourself.
Effective communication skills
One of the most important qualities for great teamwork is good communication skills. As a team member, you need to speak up whenever necessary and express your ideas and thoughts honestly, directly, and clearly. Your communication should have respect for the team’s work and for other team members—that’s exactly what constructive communication means. Also, listening to and supporting other members’ ideas is equally important. When it comes to being indispensable, do not shy away from accentuating a point, but also make it in a respectful, confident, and positive manner.
Be a problem solver
All teams face problems. However, indispensable team members always approach a problem in a solution-oriented way, rather than rehashing, avoiding, or blaming others for it. To be indispensable, collaborate with others in the team to come up with a solution, and frame an action plan to solve the problem. Even if you don’t know the solution initially, know that mobilising the entire team to work on finding a solution will result in the right outcomes. When you take the lead to solve a problem faced by your team, you are making a positive contribution for your team. Even if you are not being recognised outright, keep taking initiatives and you will eventually become the go-to person for whenever a solution is needed.
Expertise a specific skill
Another vital aspect for becoming an indispensable team member is being an expert in a specific skill or niche. Of course, it is essential to be proficient in almost all aspects of your field, but what’s more important is to be the go-to person when it comes to a specific skill. You can obtain this chance when someone in your team with a unique skill resigns or gets transferred, leaving you to step in to offer your expertise. Or, you can also get the opportunity when something new is developed in the organization that requires specific skills that no one else in your team or company has. One other way to be an expert in a particular skill is by finding a gap in your team’s collective skill set and working to fill the gap with your knowledge and experience.
Your team members should be able to count on you when it comes to getting work done. Always put in your fair share of hard work, and remember to meet commitments. Be consistent and bring assignments to successful conclusion. Be a person who others can count on by delivering excellent performance at all times.
Flexibility at work
It is not uncommon for teams to face changing workplace conditions. Sometimes, changes are created by teams themselves. Efficient team players usually adapt to these changes easily and willingly. Be ready to accept changes and do not get stressed or complain whenever you are required to follow a new direction or try something new. Also, analyse different perspectives and compromise whenever needed. Do not be obstinate about a single perspective, as this can be a hurdle when your team needs to get something done. Of course you can be firm in your ideas, but also be flexible enough to accept what the other members in your team have to offer.
Besides developing these qualities, always remember that your job is to make your team’s job easier. Think of ways to help your team and make the jobs of your team members easier; this will help make them believe in you more and more. In addition to caring about your work, care for the team members’ work, and the team itself.
Expand your horizons and learn new skills that interest you. Do these for your own satisfaction, and your recognition as an indispensable team member will come automatically. On the whole, your commitment should be for the victory of your team, to achieve the team’s goals.