Think about good team players, chances are you’ll think of the more gregarious team members first. The ones that often contribute to team meetings and seem to energise the group.
Why assume introverts are not team players?
Introverts, so the common script goes are quiet, prefer to be on their own and don’t speak up in meetings. If these points were true, then we might assume introverts are not team players – but introverts do socialise, they do speak up in meetings and they do contribute to the team’s effectiveness.
What makes a good team player?
- Understand their role and deliver it. The team can’t work well if they’re covering somebody else all the time!
- Collaborates, support others, and willing to help other team members where needed.
- Reliable, responsible, and a good communicator. A good team needs to know what’s going on.
- Commitment to ensuring the team succeeds with its tasks and projects.
What makes an introvert a good team player?
Firstly there’s nothing in the “good team player” list that excludes introverts.
But there are some skills that introverts typically hold which are beneficial to a team.
- Good listeners: How are you to help other team members if you don’t listen to their needs? How many times have you seen one person “helping” another and everything gets worse?
- Work at belonging: Introverts very often like to belong to a coherent team (as opposed to a poor team). The sense of belonging is akin to their tendency to have fewer, deeper, friends. As they value belonging, they work at it – often quietly and in the background.
- Keep quiet, apart from when needed: How many meetings have you sat in where some people never shut up? That’s not good for the team!
- Challenge constructively: Introverts will challenge (where it’s appropriate and they believe it’s wanted) and their natural tendency is to do this constructively (all that listening helps). This can help draw the team together.
Isn’t it about leadership?
One role of a leader is to develop the individuals and the whole team. If the team is run in a way that favours external processing, loud unstructured meetings and favour extrovert behaviours – chances are the extroverts will do better. Although that doesn’t make them better team players,
Think about the extravert bias
If you’re thinking about your team, whether recruiting, promoting or improving it – drop the extravert bias. Extraverts may make a good first impression and may look good on the surface, dig a little deeper and check what’s going on.
Corinne Bendersky found that extroverts make great first impressions, they may disappoint us over time when they’re a part of a team. “On a team, you’re expected to work hard and contribute a lot. But they’re often poor listeners, and they don’t collaborate.” explains Bendersky.
Not only can introverts make good team players, but they may make better team players.
- Spotting an introvert, hiding in plain sight
- Pumping up your team?
- Does it take longer to manage introverts?
Ben Drury, otherwise known as "The Culture Guy" is an expert in company culture. Ben knows a thing or two about culture. Here's what he said about company culture and introversion.