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Perception is everything. Or is it? You can dress in nice clothes, style your hair, wear fancy jewelry, or drive a sports car. But if your bank account reads zeros, the reality is you’re broke.

The same reality applies to being a good teammate. You can look the part and say all the right things. But if deep down in your heart, you are jealous, have selfish motives, or lack understanding, you’re not a good teammate. You’re broken.

Last week, we debuted a new quiz on our website that rates “good teammate” strengths. I am blown away by how many people have already taken this quiz!

The most common feedback I’ve heard so far was that “the quiz really made (people) think” about what kind of teammate they are. Many also noted that they were surprised by how low they scored on parts of the quiz. I was not surprised by either of these responses.

The quiz was specifically designed to make people think about what kind of teammate they are. Most people don’t spend a lot of time pondering this topic. Most people rely on their gut instincts to fill in the parameters.

I envisioned coaches, bosses, and team leaders having their entire teams take the quiz. The questions are generalized and therefore applicable to sports teams, corporate teams, school faculties, church teams, families, etc. Any team can gain insight by taking the free quiz. The results are intended to provide support to leaders wishing to broach the subject of being better teammates with their team members.

Because most people don’t devote a lot of time thinking about what kind of teammate they are, they tend to overestimate their own abilities—a product of a psychological phenomenon known as the Dunning–Kruger effect.

For example, several people who took the quiz commented that they were surprised they scored low in the category of loyalty, since they generally consider themselves to be a loyal person. (FYI, the quiz measures aptitude in five different categories: Active, Loyal, Invested, Viral, and Empathetic.) By all traditional benchmarks, they probably are loyal. But good teammates view loyalty through a slightly different lens.

Most people think of loyalty as being a two-way street. They are loyal to entities that are loyal to them. (i.e. If you get my back, I’ll get yours.) Good teammates, however, are loyal to what they believe in, regardless of what they get in exchange for their efforts. Good teammates are motivated by commitment, not reciprocated benefits (i.e. I’ve got you back. Whether you’ve got mine or not, I’ve got yours.)

That mentality leads to a team-first culture and allows teams to withstand challenging times. Relationships are based on commitment instead of the fragility of bartering. When the concept of loyalty is framed in this manner, those who were surprised to have scored low in the category begin to realize the potential flaw in their previous way of thinking.

It is important to point out that just because individuals score low on a part of the quiz doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad people. The low score should be taken as an indication that maybe those individuals need to reexamine how they view the subject and the depth of their understanding.

They shouldn’t be discouraged; they should be encouraged, because they discovered an area in which they can focus on improving upon. Good teammates are always on the lookout for ways to get better. Providing opportunities to get better is how effective leaders heal broken teammates.

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. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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