6 Intrinsic Characteristics That Make a Great Team Player

By Malia Powers

As a team leader, you know that building a great team is a difficult and often daunting task. It requires patience, understanding, collaboration and execution. Arguably, the most important step of the team-building process is step 1: identifying the right talent.

Gone are the days when a team leader judges a candidate based solely upon CV credentials and a brief conversation. Leaders today must delve deeper and discover intrinsic qualities that define a candidate. This added information about a candidate gives leaders more confidence in choosing the right blend of individuals for their team.

Considering intrinsic qualities when attempting to build a powerful team is not a new fad. The National Soft Skills Association reports that research conducted in 1918 by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Center showed that 85% of job success resulted from using well‐developed soft and people skills. A mere 15% of job success was attributed to technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).

Almost a century later, leadership in businesses across the board give resounding affirmation of the value of intrinsic qualities in their employees. According to CareerBuilder, “The vast majority of employers – 77 percent – believe that soft skills are just as important as hard skills.”

Below are six intrinsic characteristics to look for in candidates when determining if they are a fit for your team:


An effective team player incorporates curiosity into the workday, a very attractive quality that enhances the well-being of the entire team. Let’s face reality: time and energy in the workplace is sometimes spent engaging in mundane and unsatisfying work activities. However, curious people look for opportunities to challenge themselves in ways that keep their interest and consequently, produce great results. They try not to allow their intrinsic curiosity be stifled. This is achieved by asking more questions and using powers of observation to cultivate an environment that seeks to “see things differently.” The effect that curious individuals generate is a team that feels more engaged in a project and more capable of embracing opportunities.


We appreciate people who reveal their human sides in the workplace. They express their personality and beliefs, minding a healthy respect for differing opinions. Though making oneself vulnerable is rarely comfortable, the team player who exudes authenticity will prove to be very strong asset to the team. The authentic team player is more approachable, trustworthy, and often plays a unifying role.

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