I have been studying up on being a great leader and just how, precisely that is done. While I don’t have any tried and true battle theories (yet) I did think I would tackle some things that help make a great leader…being a great co-worker. Here are 14 things you NEED to be a great co-worker (which I sincerely hope begets great leadership skills cuz…you know):
If you don’t have a handle on who you are as a worker, you aren’t going to be much help to your team. Self-awareness is a crucial skill that allows people to work within their strengths and be honest about their weaknesses.
Urgh this one is the worst, but you should have it anyway. No man (or woman) is an island and you are no special snowflake. It’s okay to brag sometimes but thank and defer as much as you brag or everyone (including your coworkers) will hate you.
Notice that I did not say neatness. Neatness is for other people. Not this snowflake. Being organized means that you can find something immediately and that you have a system wherein other people can find things easily when you are sick/gone/hungover.
Yeah, I said it. Being late is rude and makes everyone wait for you. Stop it and make yourself a 10% better coworker immediately.
If you are paying attention to someone, you are looking at them, taking in their words and using your brain to process them. You are NOT looking at your phone, or typing or watching something or even most times, taking notes unless you tell them that is what you are doing. If you are remote, then walk while you are the phone and record your calls for notes later.
I hate how passive-aggressive we are in this society. For the most part, no one wants to say anything confrontational and we’ve replaced solid (helpful!) criticism with being nice (not generally helpful because many times you are a big fat liar). Be willing to help someone get better by letting them know what they can improve.
But also sometimes, shut up. If you are discerning, you have both the ability to be bold and humble. Essentially, you’ll know that if someone nailed the writing of an article but misspelled a couple of words, then simply proof their articles and be done with it.
Being honest is a shockingly hard habit for many to form. Lying (even little white lies) pervades the workplace. By being honest with your team you help them (and you, ya liar). Instead of: “I sent you that proposal on Thursday, it’s SOOOO weird you didn’t get it,” try it: “I am so sorry, it looks like I left that draft in email and forgot to hit send/didn’t realize it was due the 7th and not the 17th/got sick and forgot about it completely.”
Along with the above, sometimes you screw up and the best thing for everyone is to just grow up and own it. True, this might result in disciplinary action, or even co-workers that are angry with you for awhile but at least you will be owning your work, which is really the first step to being a great leader.
Sometimes we laugh at people. Sometimes people laugh at us. Sometimes we all laugh together at cat GIFs. Either way, while work is important, it’s ALSO important to relax and enjoy a funny joke.
This is especially important on smaller teams. I know in the past I have been guilty of stonewalling a new product or system simply because I didn’t want to deal with it. That’s not okay. It made things harder for bosses, co-workers and eventually me, since the only option when you won’t fish, is to cut bait. Learn to adapt to new tools, team members, bosses and finally Salesforce (barf).
It’s difficult in a larger company to really own your work, but it’s the stuff that great entrepreneurs and employees are made of. Even when you are working with others on a project, treat every aspect of it as if it were your own (without the pissing contest). If it’s not work you would sign off on, DON’T.
It’s weird right? That you would need both pride and humility. But the thing is, you need personal humility and pride on behalf of your team. If you can’t boast about everything that your team has accomplished or your company does, chances are…you’re a major bummer. Don’t be a bummer.
I’m sorry. I know you thought I was gonna say some Deepak Chopra stuff about culture (which is important) but even if you don’t have the skills when you’re hired, you need to learn them…fast. The problem with co-workers is that eventually they’ll notice when they are picking up all the slack, over explaining the most basic of systems and covering for you when the boss asks for month end deliverables. And even the best sense of humor doesn’t cover for that.
Bio: Maren Hogan
Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, a full service marketing and advertising agency serving the HR and Recruiting sectors. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the recruitment and talent space.