Like many, I have become increasingly reliant on GPS for directions. I’m not quite to the Michael Scott level of driving my car into a pond after blindly following my car’s GPS, but I understand.

The other day, I was driving to an event when I came upon a construction road closure that sent me on a near nine-mile detour.

My GPS was completely against me exiting the highway. With relentless fervor, it kept trying to redirect me back to the highway. Make a legal U-turn at the next intersection. Recalculating…Make a legal U-turn at the next intersection. Recalculating… Make a legal U-turn at the next intersection. Recalculating…

The incessant instructions became so annoying that I eventually turned off my GPS. However, I must admit that doing so caused me to feel a little uncomfortable.

I was the only one on the highway when I exited, so it wasn’t like I could just follow other cars through the detour. I was alone, in an unfamiliar area, and without the safety net of my trusted GPS. I had to rely on the road’s orange detour signs to guide me.

Teams can sometimes find themselves in a similar situation. An unexpected interruption (e.g., an injury, a change in policy, a budget deficit, etc.) detours them from the pursuit of their objectives.

When these situations arise, the emergence of detour teammates is vital.

A detour is a deviation from the direct course or usual procedure. It temporarily replaces a part of the original route. A detour will get you to your intended destination and allow you to avoid whatever hazards compromised your intended path—but in a roundabout way.

Detour teammates do the same. They’re like the orange signs guiding you through the alternative route. They willingly share their knowledge and experience to get you back on track. They project a level of faith that instills confidence in the rest of the team.

Detour teammates compel team members to believe that whatever interruption their team is experiencing is only temporary. Enduring, holding on, remaining persistent, and/or adjusting to an interim course of action will ultimately return the team to a place where desired goals can be pursued.

Detour teammates don’t waste time complaining about the interruption, nor do they waste time wallowing in nostalgia or pity. They focus on getting the team to move forward.

While I was traveling through the detour I mentioned above, I occasionally wondered whether I was still going the right way. But that uncertainty never lasted long. Whoever oversaw putting up the orange detour signs periodically positioned a sign with an arrow pointing straight ahead.

These arrows were tantamount to saying “You’re still on the right path. Just keep going.” Detour teammates provide the equivalent reassurance when they offer encouraging words to their fellow team members during times of uncertainty.

Anytime you care enough to use your knowledge to guide someone else out of a jam, you bring value to your team—not because you have that knowledge, but because you share it.

Is this leadership? Arguably. Is it being a good teammate? Absolutely.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory and the creator National Be a Good Teammate Day. He is a former sports coach turned bestselling author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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