How do you birth a team player?


I owe my life to teamwork.

My brother and I survived a gruelling 9 months through an all-consuming focus on growth and development. What sounds like another industry case study was my first experience with teamwork (thanks, Mom).

At the end of the beginning, he emerged a full hour and a half ahead of me. My attention to deadlines has improved (sorry, Mom), but I can’t help but feel like my delayed entrance was my baby ego attempting to go at it alone.

Solo work can be fast, efficient and of good quality. And in my younger years, I often felt like it was the best way forward. I quit team sports for skateboarding in junior high. But while I rebelled against process and structure, the best sessions were still with friends.

We can all struggle with how to be team players without losing our spirit. Here’s some advice I’ve picked up along the way:

Widen your view

The world of advertising and marketing subconsciously holds individual achievement in high regard. Why do we celebrate creative directors, but rarely the receptionist? Portfolios are viewed as singular expressions of genius instead of through a more accurate perspective as collective tapestries of consensus, combinations, and concessions. Individually we can always benefit from taking in new ideas, new perspectives, new stories, basically try and wear someone else’s cleats for a game. But anyone who’s worked in this industry knows that throwing a whole bunch of individuals together in a room doesn’t a team make.

It takes structure and time.

The larger the team working together, the stronger their foundation, focus and leadership need to be. Often this takes time. The tenure for chief marketing officers continues to decline; a quick Google search reveals this. If we’re not letting folks spend the time building the team they need, what hope do we have at effective work? But all the process and time won’t save you if you don’t have this final point.

Build trust with yourself and your teammates.

wrapped up that will make you feel gross afterwards. But you don’t have to eat it. Start by acknowledging what you bring to the team, and trust you can deliver. A good dose of honesty and humility will take you far in group settings. It let others know you’re brave enough and will commit to the challenge. Being vulnerable and open about why you’re doing this, what scares you about it, and what you want to get out of it for yourself will go a long way to building trust with those around you.

I’m not saying we know how to do it perfectly, but recognizing what holds back your marketing is the first step to changing it. Teams are made up of many individuals. When they perform together, they can do beautiful things. We’re building that with ourselves, our clients, and our partners.

Those who wouldn’t mind spending 9 months or longer together.

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