Team player?

中国日报网 2016-04-19 13:23



Team player?

Reader question:

When an employee is described as “a team player every company wants”, what does it mean exactly?

My comments:

“Team player” is literally a member of a team. As a member of a team, you’re supposed to work with others in order for the team to succeed.

This is easier to understand in sport, I think, than in a business company. In sports, you see, there are team sports and individual sports. Basketball, for example, is a team sport featuring five players playing against five others on an opposing team. Golf, on the other hand, is an individual sport, in which players compete against each other individually.

In golf, you don’t have to worry about anyone else except yourself but in basketball the objective is for teammates to help each other and find the best opportunity to score, by tossing the ball through the basket.

Anyone on your team scores and your team earn the point or points, as the case may be. This means you don’t have to score all the points – hence the importance of team work, passing the ball around in order to find the player who is in the best position to score.

Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star who’s just retired, is NOT known for being a team player. He doesn’t seem to understand that when a teammate scores, he gets the credit, too. It sometimes appears that he wants to score all the points. In his last game a week ago, for example, he shot the ball 50 times while all the rest of the team shot 35. Kobe shot from beyond the three-point line 21 times, with his teammates combining for a grand total of 4.

Granted, it was Kobe’s last game and teammates and everyone else for that matter wanted to make him happy. Still, 50 shots is a lot of shots.

Great as he is, Kobe has often been vilified for his selfishness, something that is the direct opposite of what is known as the team spirit, a willingness to work with and for others in a group.

In short, all organizations and businesses prefer, if they could help it, to have employees who are team players, people who not only have their own interests to care and fend for, but are able to keep the wellbeing of the team as a whole in mind.

Sometimes, self-sacrifice is needed for the common good of the team and you can only expect that from a team player.

In this sense, I’m kind of happy for the Lakers who have bidden good bye and, once and for all, good riddance to Kobe Bryant.

Now, media examples “team player”:

1. You would think being a self-motivated worker would be a benefit, right? And who wouldn’t want a team player in their company?

Of course these are positive traits -- until you write them on your resume!

But on “The Early Show on Saturday Morning,” career adviser Liz Ryan, CEO of, spotlighted the things you shouldn’t call yourself on a resume - at least, not without backing up the description with concrete examples. In fact, she says those examples could speak for themselves, without your actually using the terms you should avoid.

The idea, Ryan says, is to stand out - and using terms everyone else does hardly accomplishes that.

- Terms to Never Use in Your Resume,, April 24, 2010.

2. To make teamwork happen, these powerful actions must occur.

*Executive leaders communicate the clear expectation that teamwork and collaboration are expected. No one completely owns a work area or process all by himself. People who own work processes and positions are open and receptive to ideas and input from others on the team.

*Executives model teamwork in their interaction with each other and the rest of the organization. They maintain teamwork even when things are going wrong and the temptation is to slip back into former team unfriendly behavior.

*The organization members talk about and identify the value of a teamwork culture. If values are formally written and shared, teamwork is one of the key five or six.

*Teamwork is rewarded and recognized. The lone ranger, even if she is an excellent producer, is valued less than the person who achieves results with others in teamwork. Compensation, bonuses, and rewards depend on collaborative practices as much as individual contribution and achievement.

*Important stories and folklore that people discuss within the company emphasize teamwork. (Remember the year the capsule team reduced scrap by 20 percent?) People who “do well” and are promoted within the company are team players.

- How to Build a Teamwork Culture,, December 16, 2014.

3. Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has suggested that Riyad Mahrez is a team player who sacrifices his own attacking game to help the side's defenders.

The 24-year-old - who joined the Foxes in January 2014 - has stolen the headlines this season after scoring four goals in five matches, but his manager believes that his defensive work-rate is just as important for his teammates.

“Riyad is playing well, everything he touches is gold but behind him there are so many players who are working hard, trying to do their best for the team,” Ranieri said at a press conference.

It is important for us and for Riyad because he is a team player. He has good quality but suffers also when he comes back to help his full-back.

“That is important for the team and it is important for me.”

- Claudio Ranieri: ‘Riyad Mahrez is a team player’,, September 17, 2015.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)



















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