Are You a Conditional or an Unconditional Team Member? – Respect for the Team Leader

If you’ve ever wondered why some members of a team seem to support the appointed team leader unconditionally while others seem as if they are trying to take over the team, this blog will help explain what’s going on.

The reason that it’s important to know and understand these differences is to have a better understanding of team dynamics so that you can manage a more effective team.

In our previous blog, we looked at one of the factors that might help you tell the difference between a team member who is willing to be part of a team unconditionally (no strings attached) and one who is not (there are qualifiers before they will commit totally).

We called them “willing” or “unwilling” team members.

Both types can make great contributions to the team. It’s just that they differ in the unconscious conditions they put on team membership.

In the previous blog, we focused on how people share information and the reasons why some team members innately share lots of information with the team while others don’t.

In this blog, we focus on respect for the team leader.

Here’s how the two types of team members relate to the appointed team leader, starting with “conditional” or “unwilling” team members.

Remember, this is happening unconsciously.

If your willingness to completely commit to being part of the team is conditional upon your respect for the appointed team leader, this bias means you won’t be a “willing” participant unless the leader has earned your respect.

If the team leader hasn’t earned your respect, it can manifest in behavior where you might find yourself unconsciously starting to take over the team, a risky consequence of being a “conditional” team player.

However, because it happens unconsciously, triggered by aspects of your personality, you might not know this is happening before there are negative consequences.

This is why it’s so important that the appointed team leader is qualified, prepared, and competent in their role.

On the other hand, if you are a “willing” team member, you will treat the appointed team leader differently. You will accept the appointed team leader unconditionally without asking that they earn your respect first.

You’ll just give them a chance to lead the team.

So, if you find that you are willing to accept how the team leader is running the team without ever feeling a desire or need to take over the team, then your willingness to be part of team is unconditional.

That’s why managing team dynamics can be challenging.

Some members may be conditional, sharing information in small bits and only when asked. Others may be unconditional, sharing all the information whether asked for it or not.

The conditional members might make things tough for the team leader, sometimes trying to take over the team if they don’t believe the leader has earned their respect. The unconditional members will be more forgiving right from the start.

None of this has to do with the competence or value of a team member. Or about the kind of contribution they can make.

Rather, it highlights how different aspects of personality can unconsciously trigger behaviors that affect team outcomes.

That’s why we like psychometrics at Breakthrough Management.

Because it helps surface these aspects, allowing us to proactively manage our innate biases (and consequential behaviors) better. This helps to better create, manage, and support enhanced team dynamics.