I’m usually an organizer, list maker, goal-setter, and over-achiever. When I plan something, it gets done. I’m used to being in charge, delegating, supervising and evaluating progress. Of course I believe in rolling up my sleeves and working alongside my team members, but I am usually in the leadership role. How exhausting!
When I volunteer, I struggle to ensure I remain a team member and not the team leader. Just as some people could benefit from learning how to lead, I feel there is much to be learned from simply serving on a team.
The first benefit from serving on a team verses being the leader is the camaraderie of the members that naturally eludes the leader. As friendly as the group may be, the leader, by virtue of his/her position, is one step removed from the group. How wonderful it is just to concentrate on making friends and the activity at hand!
A team member doesn’t have the demands a leader does to ensure the goals are met. This makes the activities within the group more relaxing and enjoyable. When the meeting is over, it’s really over. A leader may have to do additional follow-up, but the team member is done. How freeing is that?
Not being a leader is a chance to learn from another leader. How are they organizing and motivating the team? We are used to our own way of doing things. Watching others is a great way to learn new techniques.
It’s a chance to voice an opinion. I believe a good leader (not a boss) is the neutral facilitator of the group. A good leader should bring the group to consensus without attempting to add his/her own bias. As a team member, I can voice my opinion knowing that it only carries the same weight as the other members of the group.
A person doesn’t need a title to lead others. Being a great team player is a challenging job in and of itself. Even as a team member, I can help to motivate others, quell gossip and support the leader. Whether you’re used to being the leader or the team player, it’s good to challenge yourself to take on a new role. It might be more fun than you realize!