Being a Great Teammate

young Angie Witkowski standing next to a mascot on the football sidelines during a game

“Angie, this place is a @#!!**$$ freak show!”

That was one of the exclamations my dad used when he dropped me off at the University of Michigan my freshman year.  

I grew up in a rural community.  He wasn’t used to all the tie dye, hair dye, and the “I look like I want to die” goth-style attire represented in the student body.  He felt like he was throwing his daughter into Jim Rose’s Circus.

I was on fire with enthusiasm.  This was exactly what I’d hoped for.  It was like I turned 180 degrees and took one step forward … and then another … and then another.  Before I knew it,  I found myself enrolled in NROTC to become a Marine Corps Officer.  Now, these Midshipmen were my kind of freaks!!   Tattoos,  Esprit de Corps, and an unwavering commitment to something greater than themselves?  A true oddity even by today’s standards!!

One of the best parts of college was Saturday mornings.  After my ROTC friends and I shook off our late night of partying, we’d gear up and hit the football field.  By gearing up, I mean we’d put on our Midshipman uniforms and raise the gameday flag, and then proceed to watch the game from the sidelines.  

Naturally, as the Wolverines prepare for tonight’s game, I’ve spent the better part of this past week reflecting on my Alma Mater pride and what the college experience meant for me. No surprise, the most profound part wasn’t my degree. It was the people.

It’s always the people who make any experience, isn’t it?

My question to you: How are your people?  Are you surrounded by a great crew?  And, more importantly, are you a great team member??  

We spend a lot of time focused on what our team is like – the greater question is how are you contributing to the vibe?

Are you the type of person who ensures a great team environment  for others?

Great teammates make great teams … and great teams are made up of great teammates.  

If you feel you’re on a less-than-best team, I’ve got news for you: the only thing you can control is you.  But when you’re a great teammate, you have a significant influence among those around you.  One person and their positive attitude can transform a team.

To be a great teammate:

  • Learn how to lead from the front.  Be the example you expect others to follow.
  • You need to know how to throw, block, and tackle – “own” the fundamentals so others can trust you.
  • Don’t coddle, cater, or enable.  Have high standards and raise people to them.
  • Control the controllables – you’ve got 100% influence over your attitude, your work product, how you treat others, your initiative.  
  • Do the small things:
    • Grab a cup of coffee for a tired colleague and say something like “Here, I thought you could use this.”
    • Ask your team about their life outside of work
    • Small talk before meetings – small talk is the gateway to big talk
    • Make a big deal out of birthdays, career milestones, deal captures, KPI milestones – if you don’t do it, who will?
  • Bring your passion and purpose to work with you – believe me, there’s plenty of room for inspired individuals who can share their positive energy with others.

And, I say this from the bottom of my heart: Be a FREAK.  Be a part of the show!!  Meaning, be yourself – the original you are.  We all want to be seen and heard.  Be seen and heard as the true you.

Go Blue!!  I’ll be among the many loud voices rooting for the Wolverines from afar!  

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