The Leaders Advisory Blog

To unite the two most crucial parts of business: the results that come, and the people who create them.


By Tony Walmsley

Are you a team player?

I love a question that keeps on asking. But is that the right question to ask? What is a team player? Do you know someone who isn’t and , are you certain about that? What if we could solve the teams riddle simply, using data, and with purpose?

This issue crops up often in sport and business. When loaded with assumption and bias and with the firm view that “I have the answer”, these judgments kill relationships one small step at a time, whether intentional or not.

Using technology and data to provide business intelligence that leaders and managers can act on, in the case of team building, is striking metaphorical gold. The positive impact on relationships and teamwork, like alchemy, leading to improved performance and wellbeing. .

FACT: By working on something with another person, or more people, we are part of a team, even if it sometimes isn’t clearly defined as such. By definition we dispel any myth that only certain types are team players.

It may just be accidental and it may be reluctant, but the great thing is knowing means we have to suspend judgement.

So, how do you pick this conundrum apart? When does the intention to understand individuals as a team player shift to a need to be compliant to a standard?

Or, was it always the case that the recruitment agency aligned their agenda fully with yours, by intention only? I sense a high cost mistake looming.

Two ways to put a team together

1. Internal: Mobilise existing troops

2. External: Bring in new blood

In business, let’s take tech sales as an example, the recruitment agencies compete for in demand talent and push their stable forward and the fast evolving companies lap up the shortlist to stay one step ahead of the competition. Great in theory.

The football world is perhaps more frenzied during the transfer window as clubs try to balance the cost, risk, and performance tension, with the added scrutiny of the fans and media. Madness has been known to prevail. Costly mistakes have been made.

So, where does this go wrong so often? Whether members are internally, or externally sourced, and knowing that everyone is a team player of some distinction, clarity about the individuals’ unique natural attributes becomes the key determinant to future level of success.

The Leaders Advisory builds successful teams, one person at a time.

Performance potential and required skills are assumed.

This is not about talent, skill, or historical performance. It’s about fit. Work out what is present and which ones are missing.

  • Teams need people who will take charge.
  • They need somebody who will ask the awkward questions.
  • They require individuals who will handle the information.
  • They need a pioneer who ventures into new territory.

That’s the same for sales, football, or any performance based organisation, If any of these areas are absent, adjustments need to be made in order to get maximum performance.

When you accept that everyone is a team player, the better question to ask is “which role in the team can you play?” The importance of this cannot be over emphasised. Each role must align with what everyone is most comfortable with, most of the time.

The impact of failing to align is deficit. Performance. Engagement. Mental health. Cohesion. Turnover. It’s a problem that doesn’t go away over time. It grows.

This is where understanding personality becomes essential. First for managers whose job it is to get the performance of the internally constructed team on track.

Then for the interviewers who need to recognise that everybody plays a different part and needs to play their role in harmony with their core personality.

The top two reasons people quit work

1. Environment

2. Management

  1. Armed with personality insights that management can act on has benefits across the board.
  2. It allows recruiters to qualify out early, even before interview, saving time and money.
  3. Managers improve and get more respect.
  4. The recruiter gets better aligned and more traction.
  5. The business improves productivity and reduces staff turnover.
  6. The individual recruited to the team is happier, performs better and advocates more readily.
  7. Customer satisfaction increases.
  8. Stress reduces

The alternative and more common approach sees an individual accepting a role that is misaligned.

Trying too hard at something unnatural kills respect and connection. Relationships disintegrate. Satisfaction drops. The grass becomes greener elsewhere if the cull hasn’t already begun.

To avoid disengagement by design, using the right approach to personality reports makes sense by removing the guess work. It needs to be actionable, simple to use, affordable, and leave no room for interpretation.

When the greatest natural contribution of an individual to any type of team is enabled, small definitive adjustments can be made to keep people engaged and productive, longer.

With this approach people can breathe. Waking up feels better, and even the now ‘old school’ commute seems worth it.

The performance benchmark is already higher.

Personality just is. It doesn’t change. When this is understood, the next challenge is to work out how to communicate. Now let the Alchemy begin.

The Leaders Advisory is a Performance Coaching and Leadership Development organisation that uses applied psychology to help companies improve their engagement, productivity, and wellbeing. Tony Walmsley, founder is a Performance Coach and Profiling Specialist with a 30-year history as a business leader, professional football manager and coach educator.

Written by Tony Walmsley