This article was based on episode 264 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of the Modern Manager community get 50% off Lance’s professional team development course, The Good Teammate Factory. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.
When riding a bike or driving a car, there are moments when we need to shift gears. Maybe we’re approaching steeper terrain or slowing down to enter a curve. These “clutch” moments (named for the device that disengages the old gear and allows the new gear to take over) happen all the time in life as well. We may find ourselves needing to suddenly shift gears and make a quick decision to resolve an unexpected problem. At these times, the best teammates are those who ask themselves the question, “What’s best for the team?” They are choosing the “We” instead of “Me” gear, and that makes all the difference.
Lance Loya introduced me to his “We Gear” philosophy. Lance is the founder and CEO of The Good Teammate Factory. A college basketball coach turned bestselling author, blogger, podcaster, and professional speaker, he is known for turning teambusters into good teammates. He has inspired readers and audiences around the globe through his books, keynotes, and seminars.
As Lance taught me, if we choose to pay attention to how we’re showing up and what’s needed most, we can learn how to be an amazing teammate. Lance explains here the 5 most important qualities to put our We Gear mindset into action, the 3 most impactful interactions you have with teammates, and what to do if one of your employees just keeps messing it up.
THE 5 QUALITIES ALL ‘WE GEAR’ TEAMMATES HAVE
After observing thousands of high performing players, coaches, leaders, and employees, Lance developed his ALIVE model to help teammates put the We Gear mindset into action. ALIVE stands for Active, Loyal, Invested, Viral, and Empathetic. As Lance explains, anyone can be a good teammate if you are ALIVE. Below Lance breaks down the 5 essential components:
Active. When they see a problem, they don’t blame, shame, or complain. Instead, they do something to solve the problem and move forward.
Loyal. They believe in giving allegiance to a higher entity (the team) over themselves. Oftentimes new managers think they are entitled to loyalty from their employees, but loyalty has to be earned through the actions that you take.
Invested. They are more than interested in other people. They ask questions to really get to know their teammates and then do what they can to help them succeed. They see others’ problems as their own and are committed to helping others overcome setbacks.
Viral. The energy they bring is contagious like a virus. They spread their fervor and passion to everyone around them.
Empathetic. They ask “why?” before passing judgment. They feel—rather than pity—what it's like to be someone else, and thus have important insight into helping others.
THE 3 MOST IMPACTFUL INTERACTIONS WITH TEAMMATES
On top of cultivating an ALIVE mindset, Lance shared that we need to always be aware of 1) how we greet others, 2) how we leave others, and 3) how we recognize the good in others.
How we greet others has a deep impact on how they feel throughout the day. Just imagine the difference between a colleague walking by first thing in the morning and saying hello with a smile compared to completely ignoring you.
How we say goodbye sets up future interactions. A warm departure leaves people wanting to return because they feel connected. It also reduces the chance of our coworkers worrying if we are upset at them for any reason.
Lastly, remember to catch your teammates doing something good. Too often we notice something nice and think to ourselves, without passing along the compliment. Yet for so many of us, simple words of acknowledgement make the best rewards.
WHEN AN EMPLOYEE KEEPS FALLING SHORT
If your employee just isn’t embracing the ALIVE behaviors, Lance suggests using the “sweet and sour sauce” method. Begin with a compliment (the sweet), then lay out the concern or problem (sour). By starting with a positive compliment, your employee will be more receptive to later accepting responsibility and digging into a solution.
Once you’ve delivered the sweet and sour, you’ll need to follow up with an open-ended question, such as “How can we do our best as a team if you keep doing this?” Put the responsibility on the teammate to help solve the problem with you. Oftentimes people are just unaware of how their actions are impacting others. Create awareness and lay out specific expectations. As C.S. Lewis would have said, being a good teammate is not about thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
We want to build a culture in which our teammates can engage in a problem by shifting into a We Gear mentality. They do this when they respond by prioritizing what is best for the team. Build a vibrant team by cultivating ALIVE mindsets and behaviors in which your employees actively look for solutions, are deeply loyal, support others to be successful, have contagious excitement, and can truly understand where others are coming from. Model a supportive environment by being intentional in how you greet, depart, and point out the good in your teammates. If an employee is falling short, begin with the positive that you see, lay out the problem, and then work together to find a solution. Anyone can be an amazing teammate if they’re ALIVE.
KEEP UP WITH LANCE
Get 50% off Lance’s professional team development course, The Good Teammate Factory, when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.
This article was based on episode 264 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.