Back in February of this year we highlighted a book by Sam Walker by the name of The Captain Class that identified the captain as a key element to long term team success.
While digging deeper on the topic for our clients we noticed that the correlation of Walker’s captains with Glenn Parker’s work on team player styles and the most volatile team player style, “the challenger.”
Parker's work was mostly inside large corporations in the 70’s through early 90’s but his book Team Players and Teamwork is still relevant today. His research lays out four traits for how people will behave when working with others: Contributor, Communicator, Collaborator and Challenger. Everyone exhibits all four traits when interacting with others, however, it’s the order they prioritize them that impacts the group. The group that prioritizes being a challenger is the smallest, and his perspective about how to work with and advise this group has been of prescient.
Why you want Challengers on your team:
“Challengers push the team to talk openly about problems and things getting in their way of success.”
How others can react to a Challenger:
“Ironically, many Challengers are accused of not being team players because they raise objections to team decisions.”
What a coach needs to share with their Challenger:
“The real mark of an effective Challenger is their knowing when to stop pushing.”
Sports teams can be great places for challengers, the rules and boundaries allow them to flourish as they can focus their drive to excel and not be distracted by some of the constant changes of life. In work or family settings the challenger can be a bit exhausting to those with contribution or collaboration as dominant traits.
Our key learning when combining Walker’s and Parker’s work is to empower the challengers to call the team higher while making sure they realize others will have different needs. If one of your highest performers is also a challenger consider having the team take the Parker Team Player survey so the rest of the members will have a better understanding of these traits. This can lead to mutual respect being maintained over the course of a season or year when tensions rise due to losses or setbacks in goal obtainment.
As a leader or coach, establishing a common language for your team in some key areas is a big part of defining who is “on” the team. How people naturally want to act when with others is something you can leverage to help the group become a team. We hope Walker’s and Parker’s efforts will allow you to effectively identify your team’s traits so you can manage and lead them to challenge each other to find their best collective self.
Interested in other posts on similar topics? Check out our blog.
The Banyan Book
We are excited to announce coming in the first quarter of 2020 will be the Banyan Book, a compilation of our best practices, writings, and tools in a handbook for business owners and managers. As always, we welcome the chance to speak with you.
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