The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player | John C. Maxwell

Summary of: The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player: Becoming the Kind of Person Every Team Wants
By: John C. Maxwell


In ‘The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player,’ John C. Maxwell lays out the distinctive characteristics that exceptional team players share, traits that go beyond possessing raw talent. Maxwell reveals practical insights and examples from history and contemporary society to highlight how and why these traits can transform teamwork and foster effective collaboration. This book summary will guide you through the essential qualities exhibited by ideal team players, delving into adaptability, flexibility, collaboration, commitment, communication, and more. By understanding and nurturing these qualities, readers can develop into the kind of person that every team seeks and needs to achieve success.

Winning as a Team

The success of a team cannot be guaranteed by individual talent alone. It requires team players with key traits and constant development. In the book, 17 such traits that define true team players are discussed along with the ways to attract and develop such players. Any person can become a better teammate by choosing to, making it possible for teams to thrive and achieve their goals.

Quincy Jones: The Master of Adaptability

Quincy Jones excelled in various areas of the music industry by adapting to work with different groups. His emotional confidence and creativity allowed him to transfer prior knowledge seamlessly to new endeavors. Jones exemplifies an adaptable team member who learns, has a sense of security, and knows how to be flexible. His success lies in making choices based on solid life values and being nimble to change. As Napoleon Bonaparte claimed, success is in adapting to changing field conditions. The Duke of Wellington praised Napoleon’s flexibility and presence on the battlefield as worth 40,000 soldiers.

The Power of Collaboration

During World War II, 220 Allied prisoners of war escaped from a Nazi camp through a tunnel they secretly dug together for over a year. This remarkable feat was accomplished through intense collaboration, as each member contributed their talents to make the team stronger. The key to successful collaboration is seeing others as co-workers, not competitors, putting aside suspicion and focusing on the group’s victories. The story serves as a reminder that working as a team can achieve incredible goals in the most challenging and dangerous situations.

Salk’s Polio Vaccine

Dr. Jonas Salk’s team developed the polio vaccine in 1952 after eight years of hard work, which nearly eradicated the disease in America by 1957. Their dedicated work and belief in the vaccine’s value led to their success. Studies show that individuals increase their commitment level when facing challenging tasks, which increases their determination. Difficulties fuel their drive, and team members of different abilities share the drive to reach their shared objectives.

Effective Communication in Team-Building

Communication is integral to team-building, ensuring growth and progress. Team members should communicate candidly and resolve issues immediately. Clear written instructions and priority-setting become vital for complex projects. Just as football teams use playbooks and businesses have contracts, all team members understand and remember their assignments. Tense relationships must be addressed and resolved to avoid festering issues. With effective communication, teams sustain their achievements.

Commitment to Excellence

The book emphasizes that teams should commit to excellent performance and not settle for average work. Members should strive to do exceptional work together by raising their individual standards and developing areas of specialization.

The Importance of Consistency in Teams

To build trust among team members, it’s crucial to have consistency in meeting responsibilities, showing good judgment, and contributing regularly. Accountability is key, and team members must strive to live up to their obligations. Sharing common experiences is also essential to develop common ground. The story of how Ohio’s decision to honor its financial obligations helped bring the state back to prosperity in the mid-1800s illustrates the importance of consistency. Stephen Douglas, despite his illness, insisted on being in the legislative chamber to argue against the proposal to renege on debts, ultimately convincing the legislature to pay its bills.

Cultivating Discipline

Successful team members practice discipline in three areas: thinking, emotions, and actions. To develop discipline, one should think actively, strive for self-mastery, and take responsibility for making things happen. This skill is crucial in achieving success and becoming a precedent-setting champion, as seen in Bobby Jones’ story.

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