Are You A Focused Team Player?

Winners focus on winning. Losers focus on trying not to lose. Are you a winner or a loser?

Being advised that you need to be focused, or be laser focused is one thing. But, what are you being advised to be laser focused on? I am a huge football (soccer) fan, and my favourite team is Liverpool. Throughout my life, Liverpool have always been focused on winning.

They want to win every match, and win trophies at the end of the season. There are other teams who play in the same league as Liverpool, who focus on trying not to lose. I won’t name any names here.

The difference is in terms of football; when you are laser focused on winning, you know exactly what the vision is. You also know how to get there. When you are laser focused on trying not to lose, you are thinking of either winning, or drawing. So the vision is very hazy and unclear.

1. Focusing On The Vision

If we think in terms of our working world; being laser focused on winning, is exactly the same as being laser focused on what the vision for the team, and the organisation is. We are clear on where we want the team to get to, and how we are going to get there.

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Being laser focused on not losing, we are not quite sure on what the vision for the team, or the organisation is. We also don’t know how we are going to get there.

Highly effective team players are always laser focused on the vision for the team. They think in terms of the big picture. When they start work in the morning, they have a purpose. They want to make a difference every day.

In football terms; they are laser focused on winning, and they will do anything they can to help their team win. They go the extra mile and go further than what is expected of them. How much are you willing to be laser focused on winning?

Low performing team players are not laser focused on anything usually. They don’t know the vision for the team, and don’t care about the vision for the team. When they start work in the morning, their objective is to be assigned as little tasks as possible.

They don’t want to be part of the team, and will not help the team win. They don’t have a purpose, and are focused on trying not to lose. They look at what they do as just a job, and will do the exact minimum required to get the job done. How much are you not willing to be laser focused on trying not to lose?

Over the years I have led some great teams, and some not so great teams. The great teams had a vision to strive towards, and most members of those teams knew what it was.

So, they were laser focused on striving towards achieving that vision every day. There were one or two team members who were not, as they were mainly laser focused on themselves.

2. Do You Focus On Yourself?

Members of the team who only focus on themselves, are low performing team players. They are usually part of a team because they were told to be, not because they wanted to be. The highly effective team players are there because they volunteered, and wanted to make a difference.

If a person is part of a team because they are told to be, and they don’t want to be there, then that will drag the rest of the team down. Their focus won’t be on the team’s vision, but mainly just to get through the day with doing as little as possible.

It’s possible that you have experienced this in your career. You may have been part of team’s were there were people who were told to be there, and people who volunteered. Have you ever been part of a team that you didn’t want to be a part of?

Have you ever volunteered to be part of a team? If the answer is yes to both questions, then you know the difference in feelings. One team you were excited and driven to be a part of. One team you felt miserable and wanted to be somewhere else. I know the feeling, because I have experienced the same in my career.

If you were in the position to lead a team, which type of team members would you want on your team? Would you want the team members who were told to be there (low performing team players)?

Or, would you want the team members who volunteered to be there (highly effective team players)? The answer is easy; highly effective team player, right?

When volunteering to be part of a team, or part of a group, you are giving yourself a great opportunity. You are willing to accept the responsibility to make a difference, and you are giving yourself the opportunity to raise yourself up.

People who volunteer to be part of teams are usually highly effective team players. So, they will know, and be laser focused on the team’s vision. They will also know how to strive towards achieving that vision.

3. How Often Do You Volunteer?

I would like you to look within yourself for a moment, and be 100% honest with yourself. If a new project came up in your workplace, and had the potential to be a huge benefit, would you volunteer to be part of the team? Or, would you wait to be told to be part of the team?

Whatever your answer may be, will your influence increase with the highly effective team players you work with? Or, would it decrease? What do you think the difference would be from you volunteering to be part of the team, and being told to be part of the team?

If you are thinking that you would like to be on the project, but not part of a team, then I urge you think a bit deeper. It is a huge project, and will benefit the organisation greatly. This cannot be carried out by individuals, it has to be a team.

If you are not willing to be part of a team, then you are a low performing team player, and focussing on not losing. You will soon be bypassed by the volunteers who are highly effective team players, and are laser focused on the vision, and winning.

You are part of the organisation you work with, that is one team. You are part of the department you work with, that is one team. If you are part of a project, that is one team. If you work with different department, that is one team.

4. Are You Part Of The Team?

You are part of many teams that form one organisational team. So, you cannot dismiss being part of a team. All successful people became successful because they were part of a team, purpose, or cause. They had help from a team. To be truly successful, you cannot do it on your own.

I didn’t realise the team scenarios above until I became a project manager, when I worked in Liverpool for their train operating company. The reason I didn’t realise it was because for years we were not all focused on the vision.

We were focused on trying not to lose, or just getting through the day with no issues. It wasn’t until we had a new engineering director, Kevin, and he turned us around and we focused on the vision.

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Whatever organisation you work with, you are part of a team of team’s. If you don’t focus on the vision for the team, and the organisation, then you will be a low performing team player.

If you do focus on the vision for the team, and the organisation, then you will be a high performing team player. Make the decision of what you want to be laser focused on. The team, or yourself?

If you focus on yourself, then you are letting the team down. If you focus on the team, then you are helping to raise them up.

Highly effective team players are laser focused on winning. They want to win. They know how to win. They will do everything they can to win, and won’t stop until they do. Is this you?

What you choose to ignore in life, could have serious consequences in your future. Be laser focused on the right things, for the right reasons.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

22 thoughts on “Are You A Focused Team Player?

  1. Hi Tom,

    Firstly, I have to say, “Typical Scouser”, LOL, just kidding.

    However, as a lifelong Fulham fan (and especially looking at our recent presence in the Premier League) I can certainly appreciate the “laser-focused on trying not to lose”.

    I actually love your football analogy.

    As I read through each section here I found that my understanding was enhanced by looking at things from a football perspective.

    So, here you go:

    Focusing on the Vision – I was reminded of the “Total Football” that I’m most familiar with, the Johan Cruyff-inspired Dutch team of the 1970s (although I was too young to ever see them).

    Do You Focus On Yourself? – I’m not sure why, but Paul Pogba immediately sprung to mind. A world-class player, but one who simply can’t seem to gel with a team, as he spends most of his time focusing on what’s in it for him.

    How Often Do You Voluteer? – I was immediately reminded of Pogba’s team-mate, Marcus Rashford, and his recent campaigns on the issues of homelessness and child food poverty.

    Are You Part Of The Team? – Well, irrespective of where your loyalties lie, I think ALL football fans the World over can unite and agree – There’s only one Stevie G.

    A great read as always Tom, and one that really made think about things in great detail.

    Partha

    1. Hi Partha,

      I really appreciate your very thorough and engaging comment. I’m really pleased you found the article valuable and that you enjoyed reading the football analogies.

      It’s great that you have emphasised the “Focusing on the vision” because that is the most important part of the article for me. As a team we need to know where we are going and how we are going to get there.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Hi Tom,

    Thank you for your article. I will be starting a new job soon that would involve team-work and it is always good to prepare and plan ahead for this occasions.
    I have been working in a team in the past, but I guess most of the people in my team where not really team players and it made the work unbearable.

    Kind regards,
    Yoana

    1. Hi Yoana,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found the article helpful.

      Congratulations on starting a new job, and you are right that it absolutely will involve team work. Heading into the job with that in mind and knowing how you can make a great start as a team player will be so beneficial to you and your new team.

      All the best in the new job.

      Tom

  3. Your opening statement that winner focus on winning, and losers on not losing is as real as it gets, and I can personally vouch for it.

    Nearly a year and a half ago, I decided to work on changing my mindset, and things have started to take a turn for the better for me.

    I can honestly say that I wasn’t that big of a team player back then, but I finally realized that it’s time for me to act more humble, and try to improve my curiosity.

    I’m sure that this will lead me to accept the fact that I’m not best at everything, and therefore transform me into the lifelong learner that I want to be.

    You content never seems to disappoint, Tom. I encourage you to keep up the excellent work and continue to thrive! at everything, and that I need to strive to become a team player and accept other peoples

    1. Hi Gorjan,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that liked the opening statement, it really was meant to hit home with everyone quite quickly and I’m really pleased that it is working.

      I appreciate you sharing your experiences in being a team player and I hope what you have learned can help you to keep improving as a team player and also as a leader.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Great article Tom – your message is clear “Being laser focused on not losing, we are not quite sure on what the vision for the team, or the organisation is.” This really speaks to me. I enjoyed all your examples of how this kind of team winning works in other situations. This is highly motivating for me. Thank you for this article.

    1. Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that the article and the message was clear for you.

      I really appreciate you sharing that the article has spoken to you and that you have learned a lot. Please share what you have learned with your people and keep improving as a team player and as a leader.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. LOL, as happened before I don’t agree with you 100% this time. I am thinking of school classes that consist of groups of students that randomly got together. Yet, very often you’ll notice that if someone later on in life performs really well, there are other members of his schooltime that also performed great.
    I am thinking of actors. Lots of price-winning actors share the same exam classes.
    Or famous artists that have been at art school during the same time frame.

    They didn’t volunteer to be in those groups back then. Yet, they pushed each other hugely. Consciously or unconsciously.

    What you can remark of course is, that they chose to perform on an outstanding level. That’s some kind of voluntariness too.

    Well, as you can notice you got me thinking (again!) and I don’t have a definite conclusion yet. 😀

    1. Hi Hannie,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s absolutely fine that you don’t agree with me.

      It’s great that the article made you think, so keep thinking deeper and you will eventually come to that conclusion and hopefully end up agreeing with me 🙂

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. I had never really considered how volunteering was viewed by my teammates or my leaders. I’ll be much more purpose driven in the projects I put myself up for now. Thanks for the GREAT article!

    1. Hi Ranndi,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article valuable.

      I’m pleased that you are now going to be much more purpose driven. Keep it going.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. In my life, I have participated in a lot of projects with different project groups in different thematic areas, (and also in various roles – project designer, project member, project manager) so I can definitely say that I am a team player.
    And if you want to successfully realize the set project, you have to focus on the project goals and follow the set vision with your activities.
    You wrote and described the important points of the team players very well. These qualities can be useful in all areas of life, from domestic housekeeping, volunteering in the local community, to work.
    Great article!
    Nina

    1. Hi Nina,

      Thank you for reading through my post and it’s great that you have shared your experiences with us. I’m so pleased that this article has helped you and I hope you keep inspiring others with your work.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. Hi, Tom,

    You raise such interesting topics here on your blog, I shall recognize it was an eye-opener for me.

    I know for sure that when working in an organization, it’s great if every team member has a pro-active attitude with a lot of initiative. This is that special key leading the team and the organization to success.

    However, this is an ideal scenario that is not always displayed in reality. Do you have any recommendations as to how to deal with people who aren’t the best team players?

    I appreciate your feedback on this!

    1. Hi Ionut,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the topics on my blog interesting and valuable, means so much to me.

      I appreciate you sharing your experiences when at work and working in a team.

      With low performing team players, it is up to you to focus on the vision for the team, and the organisation, and it is up to you to gain the buy in from the other team players. How do you do that?

      You build a relationship with them and you do your best to build trust with them. Trust is the foundation of leadership and without it, you will not be able to lead and you will not be able to increase your influence. Increasing your influence is how you gain buy-in.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Great article Tom. I can see football is your passion and it’s essential for players to focus on the end result of a team. But do they visualise winning as a team?

    I often visualise the end result and at work the ultimate goal is to focus on happy customers.

    Recently I attended a CFS Cadet training to support the young ones who are coming up in the ranks to help the Country Fire Service support during bushfires. I am often asked to help at the BBQ area so the guys who are doing the cooking dhave a break from making steak sandwiches.

    Yes I am a firm believer on team play and participation.

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      Thank you for your comment. I am pleased that you found the article valuable.

      It’s great that you shared your experience of working for a team in the cadets.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. People who climb the ladder of success within corporate structures or organizations never ever do it alone. They always have the support of effective team members, people who are there to support the vision of the business or enterprise to help them along the way.

    It really sucks being part of a team when there are some members who don’t really want to be there, and as you say are just scrapping by doing as little as possible. It just puts so much more pressure on those who are dedicated to getting the job done to a high standard.

    i know first-hand how one ‘rotten egg’ can spoil the whole basket , so to speak. I am currently involved in a hospitality business, and when one of the staff facing the customers is having a bad day, it reflects badly on the whole team and can significantly impact the business in a negative way.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this topic, and also your experiences. There will be many people who can relate to you and learn from you too. Good luck in your hospitality business, and I hope you can turn those bad days in to good days.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. My business partner and I have a small business and I must say that being a winner is a priority for me, the success of my business development, me as an entrepreneur and my team as a whole, depends on this. You have a lot of interesting thoughts on your blog and I will gladly share these m with my colleagues. Thanks!

    1. Hi Smith,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this article valuable.

      It’s great that you think my other articles have value too, and I am grateful for you to share them with your colleagues.

      Good luck with your business and keep winning.

      All the best,

      Tom

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