When to Surrender and Take One for the Team

July 26, 2021

When to Surrender and Take One for the Team


As in life, people who never compromise, volunteer, or surrender their own wishes and needs to those of others—well, they might be successful but they surely aren’t popular. And frankly, I doubt they are all that successful either.

Purely pragmatically, it is in your best interest to be seen as someone who will take one for the team. Your colleagues like you more and are more likely to help out when you need it.

A team willing to give and take is a good place to work, as well as (usually) more effective. We all want to have a job where we love to get into work—being a good team member can contribute to that environment.

So when is the right time to surrender and take one for the team?

There can be any number of right times, but here are some you might want to consider if we are talking about the previous situation where someone can’t go to a high-value conference.

  • Others have not had the opportunity. You’ve already attended twice. Is there another team member who has attended only once or not at all? Fairness might suggest that you bow out. But make it clear why you’re doing it. No use hiding your light under a bushel (I don’t think that’s the right expression but you know what I mean).
  • It doesn’t matter all that much to you. We’ve already established that it does, but what if the dates of the conference conflict with some ski weekends you’d promised yourself? Or if the conference theme doesn’t grab you as much as in other years? All things being equal, you would not typically take these types of considerations into account. But if something lowers the attraction of the conference, you can make brownie points with your team by volunteering.
  • You specifically need to make brownie points. We all occasionally get into situations where your relationship with the team or your manager is not as positive as you would like. Not on the rocks, maybe, but could use some TLC. Volunteering to skip the conference will be seen as positive.
  • You want to be a good team player. Notice I left this one last. It is the most noble of the reasons and certainly, if you are in a good enough team that you want to do this, by all means, go ahead. But, as I will cover in the next post, don’t always be the one to surrender to the greater good. Being a team means sharing the downsides as well as the up.

Next post: When not to take one for the team.

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