It’s one of those clever little phrases, probably coined by a kid’s baseball team coach somewhere in the USA. It’s a nice put down for the person who wants to be centre of attention and in that respect there is no I in team; you need to be a team player for a team to perform well, but equally there is one I that is essential for every team member if your team is not to fail.

The Essential “I”

If you have been chosen as part of a team, it is usually because you have a certain set of skills, or can bring something to the table. If you are to be an asset to your team, you need to make those skills work. People may be aware of your skills, but only you can understand and assess how those skills can be best applied to the situation in hand and how you can be of most help. That’s where the I comes in.


To take the initiative is to make an introductory step and as a team player with essential skills that’s exactly what you need to do. Your leading action, in what you know and understand, is the best way to move things on. For any project, especially a team one, you need to be enterprising enough to take the initiative and help move your project forward.

Too often meetings flounder and projects fail because team members claim they were waiting for this, or waiting for that from a team member or third party. If you know you are waiting but time is slipping by, take the initiative, chase the answer, or find another way of getting that information so you can share it with your team-mates at the next meeting.

A Fine Balance

Don’t tread on people’s toes – that is the wrong I in team – but attending the next meeting with all that is required so that that meeting can be productive is a great way to not only move towards success but also to gain respect and plaudits from your teammates. You will also avoid being the butt of everybody else’s.

Being Ready

It is that preparedness and awareness that shows initiative but they are also the properties that lead to success too. If you lack initiative, if you really upon others in your team too much, you will fail. Both in the project at hand but also in the longer term too. Only you can help yourself become a success and you can only achieve that by showing some initiative.

Use your skills, use your knowledge, use your network to best advantage and use your initiative – that is the “I” in team.