The word supportive is easy to define: acting in a way that provides help or encouragement to another. Providing a listening ear or a helping hand. Being a team player.
There’s a reason why it’s one of our core values. Supportive people are the backbone of any organization, and one of the silent pillars to a company’s success. But how does a teammate actually embody the word “supportive?” How do you really support another person in a way that’s meaningful and significant?
By being selfless.
Think of the word without its suffix: support. Like a beam to a roof, lending a weight-bearing arm, a support is a singular system put into place with a soul purpose: to help its counterpart. So when you think of support amongst your colleagues, how can you pick out the truly supportive ones? Here’s how to spot three:
First there’s the silent supporter. The person who quietly tidies the office during a major company crunchtime (like pre-Dreamforce or mid-feature release) — or sneaks a new key fob onto your desk when you’ve already lost three. Got a picture of this person in your head? This teammate doesn’t ask for praise, and often their acts of service may go unnoticed. But without them, teams slowly breakdown due to a lack of general nurturing and support.
Then there’s the heavy-lifter. The colleague who selflessly takes the brunt of a project that’s out of their job description — the one who pulls an all-nighter to make sure that a new feature release doesn’t halt the productivity of a customer on the other side of the world. This person doesn’t do it for the fame, they do it for the passion. Their love is shown through support, both mentally and physically, and it pays off in dividends.
And finally, there’s the kind heart. Often mistaken for the Pollyanna, the kind heart not only sees the silver lining in every situation, but they help others see it, too. This person sees a teammate down-trodden, struggling through a project or even a personal issue, and steps up as both a coworker and a friend. The most human of the three, the kind heart proves that, while we’re all here to do a job, we’re really just human beings who occasionally go through difficult times. It’s the kind hearted supporter that gives purpose to their teammates and customers every single day.
I’m sure that there are hundreds of different forms of support in an organization. And most likely, they’re supportive both internally and externally. But the true possession of support as a core value means having the ability to selflessly put another first, and let that person’s success be the unified goal of the day.
Supportive teammates are servant leaders at their core, and whether upfront and center, or behind the scenes, every modern team has them. Who are yours?