Me or We? Traits of a team-oriented leader

Woman exemplifying what it means to be a leader

If you grew up playing sports, you probably heard the phrase “there is no ‘I’ in team” a million times from your coaches. It perfectly captures the ‘me or we?’ approach to leadership that can be the difference between a team’s success and failure.

The ‘me’ approach stems from a person’s inward focus, putting personal gain above the team. While this leadership style might achieve desired results, it may come at a cost, such as decreased morale, increased absenteeism, and higher turnover. However, a team-oriented leader is better positioned to see their team through the company’s highs and lows because the leader’s ‘we’ approach inspires others to follow them.

Take a moment to read the traits of a team-oriented leader below and reflect on your personal leadership style. Are their areas where you can improve? Which traits can you adopt? Consider this and try the ‘Call to Action’ tasks.


Being open to the opinions and ideas of others is the first trait of a team-oriented leader. Seeking input from your team and others—even outside your organization and industry—can provide insights and perspectives not previously considered. A team-oriented leader will value diversity of thought, weigh options objectively, and be secure enough to accept a better approach suggested by others.


Team-oriented leaders are great active listeners, which means they are in the moment when team members approach them to share ideas. They listen to understand and ask questions to reinforce their understanding. Asking questions also helps subordinates think through their perspectives to solve a problem on their own.


An unreliable person in a leadership role can lose credibility fast. Team-oriented leaders focus on the team’s success. To achieve this, they hold themselves accountable and accept responsibility when the team fails to meet goals. A responsible team leader is reliable, responsive, and present, not only on a daily basis, but also in the moment.


Team-oriented leaders are great communicators. They listen more and talk less, choosing their words wisely. These types of leaders know when to stop speaking and when to ask questions to clarify or to help the other person think through their idea more. Effective communicators are also approachable and are always mindful of their body language, tone, and inflection.


A servant leader is people-oriented. They focus on empowering others over their own personal gain and helping others shine. People will naturally gravitate toward servant leaders because they feel safe with this type of leader and know the leader is genuinely interested in their development.

Call to Action

  • Practice pausing five seconds to gather your thoughts before responding.
  • Practice honoring the efforts of your team publicly.
  • Practice soliciting input from others before making key decisions.
  • Practice active listening by paraphrasing and asking questions.

The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent. 

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© Great West Casualty Company 2023. The material in this publication is the property of Great West Casualty Company unless otherwise noted and may not be reproduced without its written consent by any person other than a current insured of Great West Casualty Company for business purposes. Insured should attribute use as follows: “© Great West Casualty Company 2018. Used with permission by Great West Casualty Company.”

This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.