Wanna be a Team Player? Depends…

In any organization, we talk about followers as “team players…”

But it depends on where a person is in the team hierarchy, whether being a team player is good for you.

Sometimes being a team player is dangerous to your health!

Leaders need to remember that neglected team members might just find another team!

When I coach creative followers frustrated with the leadership in their workplaces, I often discover that their good will has been stretched thin by unhealthy assignments and expectations, unappreciative managers, and an organization that pretends everyone in the team is supported.

Courageous followers have to stand up to the situation or leave the toxic situation. Most often people find a better place, taking their good will and abilities with them and leaving a toxic situation more toxic.

It’s a real loss for an organization, whether managers admit it or not.

As to what you should do, either as a leader or follower…. I wish I could give you three solutions to detoxify an organization or make a job move easier.

But good solutions are usually specific to an organization, so I’ll resist the temptation, and just say, solutions start with paying attention! Morale matters. And it’s only a rare case when an employee’s problem is entirely their own.

In order for companies to become honest enough to reward people who do the dirty jobs, moving beyond the “all for one-one for all” jargon, there has to be a change in leadership style and management priorities. Admitting that being a team player can feel like a punishment to a follower might be the hardest step for someone whose more privileged role protects him or her from the team-spirit sacrifice.

Which just goes to show that effective leaders have to be willing to wake themselves up if they’re going to prevent problems in organizational culture. Because neglected team players generally won’t bother to issue a wake-up call, and use their courage to move on to a better team.


  1. I agree that leadership style and how you manage your team can greatly affect how well your team works and stays together. I think we can all relate to the feeling of wanting to quit a job or jump ship on a team because they didn’t appreciate our efforts of the leadership style was horrible. This is a great post that can give us all something to think about.


    1. Thanks so much! There seems to be a special gift of leadership that can successfully and over time “coach” a team to success. Of course it’s more than a sports/competition model — it’s about being able to assess team stresses and strengths with discernment so the melt-downs don’t happen!


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