A TEAM environment facilitates a brainstorming of ideas as each individual brings to the table different ways of solving a problem, handling an assignment and new approaches to running a project more effectively.

Through this, the team can leverage on the synergy that is created. Each team member has varying strengths and weaknesses but often, the sum of the individual parts outweigh the weaknesses, thus enabling the team to achieve the 1 + 1 = 3 formula that represents synergy.

Having such synergy enables the team to create more impact and propels it to greater success.

So what does it take to be a team player? Here are some essential people skills you need to hone:

Seek to understand

In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, leadership guru Stephen Covey says that the key to emphatic communication is to "seek first to understand, then be understood (Habit 5)". What this means is making the effort to understand the other party before choosing your response.

In the corporate environment, each team member needs to understand the vision, objectives and goals of the team.

Why does this team exist and what does it hope to achieve within the given timeframe? When members understand this, they will know what role to play and what sort of accountability is required of them and precisely what they are able to contribute to the team.

Be cooperative

Everyone wants cooperative team members who are able to meet the team's objectives and fulfil their individual responsibilities rather than a teammate who merely wants to outshine the rest.

To achieve the team's goals, you should not only be very competent and demonstrate excellent performance but also have a cooperative spirit.

Be assertive

Assertiveness in this context means to speak one's mind. It springs from having self-awareness and confidence. It is also means that team members are not necessarily fixated on the need to be politically correct.

With this attitude, the team member can contribute his experiences or challenge the ideas brought up by others for the best interest and effectiveness of the assignment at hand.

Being assertive does not equate to aggressive behaviour such as running people down and screaming at the top of your voice. Assertiveness facilitates open communication - each team member has the right to speak his mind and contribute for the team's benefit.

Build trust

To have a truly effective team, other members must know that they can count on you. So walk your talk and do what you say you're going to do. If you say a report will be completed by next Monday, make sure it is delivered as promised. If you agree to take on a task or project, make sure you follow it through.

Be solutions-oriented

All members in a team essentially solve "people problems" - problems with customers, the boss and organisations.

Every team member should be solutions-oriented and when issues arise, which are inevitable, effective team members should not blame others, circumstances or the management. Instead, they should acknowledge it and seek solutions, which can be done through brainstorming with other teammates.

Be tenacious

There is a saying that goes, "There are no half-hearted champions". Only when a team member is tenacious enough to press on towards the goals and objectives of the team with a "never say die attitude" will the team win.

In any project or assignment, there will always be obstacles, difficulties or setbacks. But are you just going to give up when you face difficulties? If all members are able to push on in the face of adversity, then success will be yours.

Be a mentor

All teams will have some members who are "stronger" than others. And it is the weakest link that will cause a team to fail. So if you have certain strengths that your teammates can benefit from, take the initiative to help the weaker ones by mentoring them.

Keep growing

The world is marked by constant change as technological breakthroughs revolutionise the way we live and work.

To cope with all these changes, you need to have a spirit of growth within you to become a more effective individual. No team can survive with stagnant members as every team needs to change to stay competitive.

Thus, as a team member, you must always seek to improve and challenge yourself, your paradigms, the way you work and the strategies and approaches of your organisation.

Working in a team presents many challenges. But the ability to function as an effective team player is fundamental to success in almost any setting, be it the football pitch or the corporate boardroom.