Updated: December 11, 2023

16 Good Team Player Characteristics

You found our list of top team player characteristics.

Team player characteristics are qualities that indicate a team member can contribute to the group in a meaningful way. These qualities demonstrate a willingness and capability to help the team achieve successful outcomes. Examples include cooperation, good listening skills, divergent thinking, and the ability to empathize and sympathize with others. Searching for these traits ensures that the team runs smoothly and that every member productively plays their part.

These traits are examples of team building skills and team management skills and are similar to signs of a good manager and strong leadership qualities. These employees create a more positive workplace.

The list includes:

  • signs of a team player
  • qualities of a good team member
  • examples of team player skills
  • characteristics of a strong team player
  • how to be a team player at work

Here is the list!

List of team player characteristics

From having an optimistic outlook to being proactive in handling difficult tasks, here are some characteristics of a team player.

1. Stays Open-minded

Being open-minded lets a team player be receptive to ideas and information from other team members and outsiders. When individual team members get too attached to their own ideas and opinions, it can be difficult for the team to function effectively. The ability to accept new ideas is valuable and allows team players to be open to opinions, even when they are subject experts. By keeping an open mind, an effective team player can help with decision-making and lead the group during times of change. Open-minded team players can work around obstacles created by limited thinking, making them a resource and beneficial player on the team when challenges arise.

2. Communicates Effectively

When team players can communicate effectively, other team members clearly understand their intentions and expectations. Team players with effective communication skills can also help explain processes in a way that newcomers to the team can pick up easily. Having documentation that clearly and accurately communicates required functions can make a new worker’s transition into the group a more positive experience.

While effective communication is useful for speaking in meetings and writing documentation, the ability to communicate clearly goes beyond just speaking and writing. Illustrating a complicated idea in simple terms is also an aspect of effective communication. This skill can help others understand complex concepts, turning a team player into a translator and a teacher for the rest of the team.

Here is a list of books on communication.

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3. Cooperates

While some tasks require individual attention, being a proper team player means knowing how to cooperate with others. Cooperation may come in the form of contributing ideas to a project or taking immediate action when an all-hands-on-deck situation arises.

But being cooperative as a team player means more than just working well with others. Cooperation also means adopting the team’s philosophies and supporting the cause rather than making friction. If disagreements arise, then a cooperative team member defers to the ideas that best represent the project or group. The understanding that the best idea wins, even when it is not your idea, is a major part of being cooperative and a mantra a true team player eagerly accepts.

Check out this list of ways to boost workplace cooperation.

4. Helps Others

By being able to lend a hand when needed, a team player shows helpfulness that makes the team function more smoothly. Helpfulness may look like volunteering for tasks or projects or assisting others when their work falls behind. Whether the task is simple or complex, a team player is ready to jump in and help whenever necessary.

When outside forces need help only your team can provide, a helpful team player sees the request as an opportunity to represent the whole team. Being eager to step up when called on speaks well of the worker and reflects well on the group the worker represents.

5. Works Proactively

Successful team players anticipate the team’s needs and try to stay ahead of new tasks. This initiative also helps team players prepare for situations before they arise. By organizing resources for an upcoming project or tracking the timing of a new task, proactive team players help the team prepare for additional work.

While sometimes it may look like these workers are jumping the gun, true team players are really preparing the group for an easier transition. In addition to being better prepared to help, proactive team players also make space for potential problems and the extra time and attention to fix them. In the simplest terms, a proactive team player sets up the whole team for success.

6. Shows Optimism

Optimism is one of the most important characteristics of a strong team player. Having an optimistic outlook as a team player does not mean believing everything is always okay. This attitude means dealing with the reality of a situation without becoming hopeless. An optimistic team player can recognize a setback or challenge, process the information, and determine a solution.

By applying positive energy, optimistic team players keep moving forward without lingering in moments of disappointment. The possibility of alternate outcomes is always front of mind, which makes these individuals’ enthusiasm to push forward infectious to the rest of the team. The more optimistic team players you have in your group, the easier it is to maintain momentum and find workarounds when sticking points arise.

7. Encourages Others

One of the most important signs of a team player is their encouragement to their teammates. A true team player understands that the group’s success means success for individuals on the team. As a cheerleader for their coworkers, a team player can enhance the team’s energy and positively affect others. There tends to be a halo effect when team players encourage others to be their best, do their best, and give their best.

A team player who sets the example of encouragement models positive qualities for their coworkers. The resulting enthusiasm will likely turn the group into an encouragement engine, with teammates sending positive vibes back and forth and becoming more motivating individuals overall. When you have a team filled with encouraging team players, you have a team that thrives.

8. Knows How to Lead

Team players understand that leadership can sometimes come from within the group. There may be moments when a supervisor is unavailable when needed to make crucial decisions or lead a work effort. A team player with leadership ability steps up to take risks and help guide the group to the best of their abilities. These folks recognize that decisive action will help the team move forward and might even assist outside teams get the answers they need.

As effective communicators, team players who step into momentary leadership roles know to report back to their supervisors to keep them in the loop. This leap in responsibility comes with the risk that the decision may not be the preferred choice. Taking responsibility for their actions is a critical part of leadership in a team player and learning from their mistakes.

Here is a list of leadership skills.

9. Knows When to Follow

Team players need to know when to follow their leader’s example, such as upholding the team’s core mission or taking on a project as a subordinate to another worker. When another team member steps up to assume a leadership role, a team player who knows how to follow will offer their knowledge and talents to assist the new leader to become successful.

Team players with a solid sense of followership understand that letting others lead does not minimize their own leadership skills. It simply means that another teammate has stepped up and needs assistance from the whole group. In these moments, providing the help necessary provides the opportunity for a team player to become an effective follower.

10. Thinks Critically

Considering a situation from multiple angles makes a team player an asset to the group. Teams are bound to encounter work scenarios where a single answer is the only answer. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to examine possible solutions and reason through them until the ideal solution becomes clear.

Beyond anticipating how the possible outcomes will play out, this type of problem-solving requires the ability to absorb the ideas of others on the team. A team of critical thinkers allows cooperation and collaboration, with ideas shared freely. Critical thinking is just as effective when a team player works on an individual task, allowing them to make valuable contributions in different settings.

11. Knows How to Delegate

When a team player gets the chance to become the leader of a smaller sub-team, knowing how to delegate responsibilities becomes an important characteristic. The sub-team may consist of only a few workers, but a lead team player who can define roles for each team member based on those members’ strengths will ensure an efficient effort from the whole group.

Delegation may come in the form of appointing duties or may appear as assigning specific tasks to individual workers. A team player with delegation skills can tell what the situation calls for and act in the project’s and team’s best interest. This sort of balancing act can be difficult, but a true team player can handle it skillfully and successfully.

12. Listens Well

Key among the examples of team player skills is their ability to listen. It may seem like an obvious ability, but effective listening involves more than just hearing. Team players with good listening skills know that asking questions to get further clarification is a vital element in the listening process.

Part of being an effective listener is active listening. Team players demonstrate effective listening by ensuring they understand what they have heard. Team members often assume they understand what they hear but end up confused and frustrated. A team player who listens effectively recognizes that some concepts are unclear on first listen and require further explanation. These team members are unafraid to raise their hands and ask questions, which can sometimes help inform the entire team.

13. Keeps Curious

A team player with a healthy curiosity adds value to the whole organization. Whether learning to perform tasks outside of their role or looking for opportunities to improve processes for the group, a curious team player is unafraid of taking in new information.

When the team takes on new functions, curious team players will usually lead the charge with excitement. These employees often become subject matter experts and can help with onboarding tasks or create training materials to educate incoming team members. A diverse knowledge base makes a curious team member an asset and a resource from whom other team members can learn.

14. Shows Generosity

The most effective team players are generous with their time and attention. These team members understand the importance of sharing information and are more than willing to give their knowledge. Generosity may appear as a moment of recognition, during which a generous team player ensures the right coworkers receive credit for their efforts. A simple willingness to break away from their own tasks to help a frustrated workmate through a difficult moment is also a display of team player generosity.

Because teamwork is, by definition, an exchange, generous team players recognize that by being giving with their resources, they set the tone for their teammates to reciprocate. As a positive influence on the group, a generous team player is one of the most important figures a team can have.

15. Shows Self-Awareness

A team member who shows self-awareness is as honest about their weaknesses as they are about their strengths. These workers understand that admitting flaws is a necessary part of self-improvement. Recognizing their shortcomings makes team players more likely to accept suggestions for development.

Self-aware team players also know that they are one piece of a greater machine that only works when all the pieces function properly. A team player’s self-awareness may mean that they step forward when their strongest skills can help the situation, not out of arrogance but out of recognition. This type of comfort in their own skin comes across as quiet confidence in a truly self-aware team player.

16. Welcomes Feedback

Because feedback is a necessary part of a team experience, being able to welcome feedback is among the most crucial characteristics of a strong team player. Whether the message is a compliment or a critique, a true team player learns from what others have to say. Every improvement helps the team perform better, in addition to making the individual a stronger team member. A team player recognizes that downfalls in their own performance can compromise the group and is eager to address pain points and move forward.

When team players welcome feedback, they take a professional approach to their responses. They may ask for more information to ensure they understand what they must work on. They may also request follow-up feedback or guidance in making improvements to avoid missteps. This ability to view criticism as an opportunity for development is a team player’s secret weapon for success.

Check out this guide to constructive feedback.


A combination of helpful team player characteristics can turn an average worker into a teamwork superstar. Many of these traits develop over time, helping workers who may need a bit of guidance become better team players. With workshops demonstrating techniques for enhancing the qualities that benefit the group, you can introduce your crew to methods for strengthening their team player characteristics. You may end up with your very own power team!

Next, check out these examples of animals that work together in nature and quotes about teamwork.

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FAQ: Team player characteristics

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about team player characteristics.

What are team player characteristics?

Team player characteristics are traits that help a team member become an effective contributor to their team. When individual team members exhibit helpful team player characteristics, they model good behaviors for their teammates and help the group function well.

What makes a good team player?

A good team player is willing to help others and shows curiosity for new information. Listening and communicating effectively are valuable characteristics for team players, as are having an optimistic outlook and knowing how to encourage their teammates.

How do you identify team players in the workplace?

You can identify team players in the workplace by looking for skillful, open-minded communicators who are unafraid to assist their teammates. Worke s who show initiative when it comes time to take on new tasks are some of the most visible team players in the group.

Why is it important to be a team player at work?

It is important to be a team player at work because the success of the team depends on the ability for the members to work efficiently and effectively together. Assisting not only other workers within the group but also teams and individuals from outside the group can help the entire organization thrive.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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