One Key Ingredient in a Team Worth Working For

And Here’s a Hint: It’s Not Talent, Skill, or Expertise

Is there anything more frustrating than trying to accomplish a big goal with someone who’s negative, unimaginative, and defensive?

Thankfully, it’s been a while since I’ve tried. But I’ve had my share in the past, and I can tell you that nothing will kill an organization’s productivity and vision like a can’t-do person.

But if this kind of cynicism brings a team down, what can lift it up?

Several weeks ago my team and I met to review our business and make plans for the coming year. The whole process was exhilarating, but one part that stands out for me was when we discussed our values.

We identified what really matters to us about the way we work and collaborate. It was important for us to identify not what we wanted to be, but who we really are.

People began throwing different qualities on the board, and we built out a good list. But it didn’t feel complete. Something was missing. Finally someone mentioned the infectious enthusiasm of a fellow teammate.

Bam! That was it. Infectious Enthusiasm.

Everyone on our team has this quality, but sometimes the fish don’t notice the water they’re swimming in. We needed to identify it, highlight it, underscore it, and put it in BIG LETTERS.

Infectious enthusiasm is a key ingredient in a team worth working for. Talent, skill, expertise are only part of the picture. If you’re not bringing energy, optimism, and creativity to the party, it won’t be much fun. Why?

  • Motivation. Enthusiastic people bring their own battery pack. You never have to worry about motivating them because they’re already plugged into the business and fully engaged.

  • Solutions. Problems and obstacles are part of business. A former colleague of mine used to say that if work was easy, they wouldn’t pay us. But enthusiasm unlocks innovative thinking. Instead of seeing the roadblock and turning around, enthusiastic people find workarounds. They’ll go over, under, around—or just build a new road.

  • Ownership. Can-do people own whatever part of the process and outcome they’re responsible for—and they’re usually willing to assist on the rest. That means they don’t need heavy management. They just get going and get things done.

  • Achievement. Achievement takes energy. If you have motivated team members who are eager to find solutions and own the outcome, guess what happens? You start accomplishing goals.

  • Culture. Whether good or bad, attitudes are communicable. Enthusiastic people are fun to work with, which means they can bring up the mood of the whole team. It’s infectious. The net result is a positive team culture. And here’s the great thing. It’s practically self-perpetuating.

Some people might object and say this is really a question of personality. What they mean is that people can’t help it. They’re either positive or not. But that’s not true.

Enthusiasm is a choice. Our circumstances may be outside our control, but the attitude we bring to our circumstances is entirely within our own power.

The only question is what kind of team do you want to work with?

Is there someone on your team with infectious enthusiasm?

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