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Rethinking being a “team player”

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June 7, 2022

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Many of us say “yes” at work so that we are / are seen as a “team player.”

I love team sports and thought of the partners and associates I worked with in big law as my case “teams.”

But this concept of taking on more and more work to be a “team player” has gotten warped – by our work culture and even in our own heads.

So, some things to consider…

1. Being a team player means taking on your fair share… of a fair share.

If you push back on taking your fair share of an unfair and unrealistic amount of work for your team, that does not mean you are not a team player. It just means you know your limits and your team’s limits.

It’s a workload problem – it has nothing to do with whether you’re a team player.

A great team player can say “no.”

2. The Admin Stuff

Are team players being asked to take on similar tasks / tasks that make sense for different roles?

Or are you being asked to take on note-taking and more administrative stuff when the men on you team are not?

If admin-y tasks aren’t being shared across all team players regardless of gender, then it’s completely fair to push back and say something like, “Oh – I took notes last time. James – can you do it this time?”

3. Great team players can still demand great leadership

Great leaders encourage realistic workloads & protect you from unrealistic demands.

if your leader isn’t doing that, you can push back to protect yourself and your team – which actually makes you a g eat team player.

And if they don’t change, go find another leader. Even the best team players can’t save a woefully mismanaged team.

You can be a great team player and stand up for yourself and your team.

If you catch someone telling you to do something to be a “team player” (even yourself), challenge whether that’s actually the issue at play.

Don’t let a warped, overreaching manipulation of “being a team player” trick you into not standing up for yourself and burning out.

Spread the word – send this article to a friend!

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