“3C+1L”: The 4 basic qualities of an exceptional team member.

Can you describe an exceptional team member in five words?

Quite hard isn’t it. However, I believe it can be done.


A good team member should be:

  1. Caring
  2. Curious
  3. Courageous and
  4. a Good Listener

Let’s see why these qualities form the basis of today’s peak performing workforce.



As mentioned before here,the complexity of today’s team structures make it hard to have universal standards.

Teams come in many sizes and have varying interests and targets. They can be self-organizing, rigidly structured, matrix, adhoc etc.

Thus, you would employ your team depending on the unique qualities required each time.

For contemporary teams though, one thing is for certain:

One size doesn’t fit all.

In saying this, I believe that there may be some underlying qualities that EVERY supervisor, team leader or manager would want their team members to have.

I call these the “the 3Cs and 1L of an exceptional team member” and they are:


Good projects are those that meet the requirements in time and quality and also over-deliver. Those that, as marketing gurus would put it, delight the customer and aim to do more than just satisfy the stated needs.

Practically, what this means is that, taking advantage of good listening skills, you develop what is required (what is required can be describe as the stated needs) but at the same time also prepare for the unasked question, the remark that will inevitably be made. Then build this solution into the project or have the answer ready to go.

Caring enough to endeavour to reach an exceptional outcome is a great quality to have in every team.

Caring enough to consider alternatives, contingencies and ask questions is the key to successful task and project deliveries.

This means that the team member desires to do exceptional work, works on the skills required to take his/her work onto the next level and finally aspires to become what Seth Godin so eloquently described in his great book Linchpin (a book that is highly recommended. A visual summary can be found here).


As mentioned and elaborated on here, innovation and continuous learning are qualities that will be essential for the workforce of the future.

Innovation means that teams are curious enough to ask the right questions, clarify the essential facts, look outside the organization for best practices and bring new ideas to the table.

A guide to a simple but effective method of innovation can be found here and here.

The most important question to ask

in the 21st century is not Why but

Why not?


In the past century, especially considering the era of the Ford product lines, obedience was a quality that was highly regarded. Obedience in the sense that workers needed to blindly follow orders. This makes sense when the expectation was to work in factory process lines doing repetitive tasks over and over.

Well, we changed century since then and now, the common denominator is not blind obedience anymore but thinking, creating and “contributing” (as Peter Drucker would suggest).

Process work becomes more and more automated. This is because computers and robots can perform transactional /process work much faster than you and I can, at a fraction of the cost.

So, the right question to ask now is: “What is the value that each team member brings if process work becomes more and more extinct?”

As discussed here innovative thinking, having new ideas and also having the courage to challenge the status quo are qualities that are and will be much in demand in the 21st century.

So, if you have hesitations speaking up, I am afraid that in the near future there will be very few positions left, if any, that would not include the courage to articulate your ideas as a key skill.

Of course, speaking up means that you provide a meaningful, respectful, positive contribution to the organization towards securing the organization’s success.

4. GOOD LISTENING SKILLS (active listening)

Team work’s inherent requirement is to be able to effectively collaborate. Active listening is one of the cornerstones of collaboration.

From simply specifying the deliverables to “selling” the final project outcome, today’s organizational culture requires this essential skill.

Especially, considering the risk and repercussions of conflict in a team environment, which is notoriously emergent when deadlines are tight and/or stakes are high, good listening skills is something every team should have in abundance.

For an analysis on Conflict Management and reference of active listening as a very effective tool towards conflict resolution see the Harvard Law School’s special report here.

For me, these are the four underlying qualities which are the sine que non for every team member.

What do you think?

Image courtesy of Flickr user lumaxart of http://www.lumaxart.com



About Geovrakas
George Vrakas (MBA, CCMP, CMILT) is highly reputed in the field of services procurement and logistics and has presented on topics such as, Globalisation, Services Procurement, Leadership, Continuous Improvement and Personal Productivity at various venues and Universities in Melbourne. He has also been the host at industry events and published articles on Procurement and Contract Management at various online publications. George was a Board member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Australia (CILT Australia) from 2011 until 2016 and also a member of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM). George holds an MBA from Victoria University specializing in International Supply Chain Management and Applied Economics, he is also a certified Commercial Contract Management Practitioner (CCMP), a Green Belt Lean Six Sigma expert and holds a Lloyd's Maritime Academy certificate in KPIs for Ports and Terminals. He also holds certification on variety of topics primarily relating to Contract Management, Negotiations, International Regulations, Problem Solving and Change Management.

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