Who do you want on your team?

When I was a kid playing Little League sports, the coaches would hand out trophies at the end of the season – and it was an exciting time! We wondered who would get “Most Valuable Player” or even “Best Team Player” awards. Of course, we all pined for the MVP award, the symbol for being the best of the best! It served as a shining beacon of success, popularity and all-around excellent accomplishments.

If we apply these Little League practices to a corporate setting – a lifetime away from those early community sports days – do we feel much in the same way? Is the “Team Player” award perceived as a consolation prize to the “MVP” award?

Maybe you quietly believe it is, but I beg to differ – and offer up a different perspective. Think about the talent shortage most companies currently face. Managers should be clamoring for the “steady Eddies” who quietly go about the business of the day while making positive and consistent contributions to the organization. These valuable team players often serve as stable and dependable collaborators who ultimately become invaluable in the process of achieving overall team results.

Best Team Players often have the following qualities:

  • Loyal
  • Works well with others
  • Adaptable
  • Strong work ethic
  • Reliable

Arguably, a good MVP needs – actually requires – teammates with these characteristics in order to be successful. For example, a thriving sales person who continues to close large deals would likely not be able to do so without knowledgable inside sales people who manage essential facts and details.

I believe that when you celebrate a range of talents, you will have a team that ultimately alternates who wears the MVP and Team Player hats – all depending on the tasks at hand. The inside sales person is the MVP when s/he develops new and viable leads for the sales person, and of course, when new business closes the sales person dons the celebratory MVP hat. So maybe it’s the terminology we use that needs to change: it isn’t one or the other, but rather a combination of the two.

So if your child is currently playing Little League or school sports and comes home with the “Team Player” award, I hope you celebrate with ice cream and accolades.

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