A Team Player? Depends on The Position, Depends on The Team

I’ve been thinking a lot about teams lately, mostly because I am part of many different ones, and of course seeing Sudden Death at Next Stage last week. Background on that – it’s about  hockey legend John “Rambo” Kordic and his last night. From the Hockey Hall of Fame website: “A tough right-winger who could score more than most people realized, John Kordic was relegated to the role of an enforcer in the NHL. He spent parts of seven years in the NHL with four different teams.”
Enforcer is an unofficial role in ice hockey. The term is sometimes used synonymously with “fighter”, “tough guy”, or “goon”. An enforcer’s job is to deter and respond to dirty or violent play by the opposition. When such play occurs, the enforcer is expected to respond aggressively, by fighting or checking the offender. Enforcers are expected to react particularly harshly to violence against star players or goalies. (wikipedia)

Anyway, that’s the background of my “team player” headspace. That’s who he was on his team. I don’t know if he liked it, I know he was good at it, I don’t know if he was happy doing it. But that’s the kind of thing I wonder about.

Who are you on your team? Excellent question to ask. I think an even better question is “what team is it, and how does that team define “team player”? The definition seems to hit either end of the spectrum – and I found a couple of interesting results.
Definition one: a team player is someone who follows the rules and never questions authority.  To one leader, it is a sign of respect if his followers obey him.  They are truly part of the “team” when they comply with the direction he has set for it.  The organization rewards team players who do not disrupt the set flow of the organizational structure the leader has established for the organization, and punishes those who fail to play as a part of the “team”.
Definition two: The leader expects that each person on the team will play a part in helping the organization set goals and see those goals become reality.  The leader is offended when someone on the team refuses to bring his or her own original ideas for the entire organization to the table for discussion or feels his or her input is not welcome. If one member on the team struggles, it affects the entire team and it becomes the entire team’s responsibility to help them.  The leader believes that each team has a leader, who must make final decisions and set ultimate vision for the organization, but  welcomes challenge to my authority if done with the intent of helping the organization succeed.  Those rewarded most with this definition are those who work hardest to help the entire organization, as well as their personal area of responsibility, achieve its goals.

I’ve been a member of both types of teams. As you can imagine, the first was not the best place for me, so much that I actually took the hackneyed phrase “is a team player” off my resume. Because based on definition one – I wasn’t a team player, I questioned, I wondered, I asked why a heck of a lot. With better answers, I would have been an excellent team player in definition one.  I realized then that my position on a team is a combination of “wonderer” and “idea pusher” (a colleague called me that a few weeks ago, and suggested I put it on my business cards. Am thinking about it). And if I can’t play that position on a team, or a variation of such, it’s probably not the right team for me.

Some 2013 thinking – what kind of team player are you? What kind of teams do you run? And how do all your players fit into it? I’m not saying definition one or two is the better one, I know which is better for me personally.  How about you? Have you found your team?

Next Stage Festival is HOPPING, great reviews for Awake as well as other shows and things have already started selling out.  Time to shake off the holidays, get a ticket and keep that resolution of “see more theatre”.

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