Choosing Your Role on the Team

When Seth Godin endorsed Team Clock: A Guide to Breakthrough Teams in 2009, he stated, “This book made me think hard – really hard – about what it means to join or lead a group of people.” Whether joining or leading, everyone has a role. Often, your role on the team is not defined by your job description. Usually, it’s determined by the way you choose to interact with your teammates during key moments in the team’s lifespan.

Think hard – really hard – about what it means to join or lead a group of people. There is a covenant woven into the fabric of the team’s values that shapes culture with every exchange.

Whatever your role on the team, every day serves up tests of mission alignment, trust, accountability, and adaptability. How you respond to these tests, small or large, alters the DNA of the rest of the group. We exist only in the context of our environments and every single interaction in that unique ecosystem matters.

Most days, the majority of these culture tests pass by unnoticed. Big breaches of mission alignment, trust, accountability, and adaptability get obvious attention but the little contributions every teammate makes to strengthen or weaken the culture are usually subtle. The cumulative impact of these words and actions quietly steers the team toward or away from its vision. Consider these options:

  • Mission Alignment: Make a case that the words you are about to speak or the actions you are about to take will move the team closer to its goal.
  • Trust: Measure the impact your words and actions are likely to have on every other teammate. Will they be more or less inclined to lean on you in the future?
  • Accountability: Determine how your words and actions will communicate the integrity of your commitment to your teammates.
  • Adaptability: Choose a coping style that enables movement from tension to resolution, especially when the pressure of the situation makes you want to resist change.

Choose your role by intention. Both engagement and disengagement are contagious. Whether under normal or stressful conditions, be deliberate about the behavioral answer to the question, “Who do I wish to be today?” Regardless of your pay grade, your decision will alter the team’s direction.