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The “Autonomous Team Player” – a contradiction in terms?

By John Coss and ChatGPT

John is Vice chair of Stockport Humanists

Thinking about “community” – our theme for this month – reminded me of the concept of the Autonomous Team Player, which I came across in connection with Quality Management about thirty years ago. So I asked ChatGPT to explain it, and this is what it came up with:


An “autonomous team player” refers to an individual who can work independently while also effectively collaborating within a team. This concept encompasses several key traits and behaviours:

  1. Self-Motivation and Initiative: Autonomous team players are proactive, taking responsibility for their tasks without needing constant supervision. They are self-starters who can identify what needs to be done and take action accordingly.

  2. Strong Communication Skills: Even though they work independently, autonomous team players maintain clear and open communication with their team members. They understand the importance of sharing information, seeking feedback, and ensuring alignment with team goals.

  3. Problem-Solving Abilities: They can independently identify and solve problems, drawing on their skills and knowledge. This capability reduces the burden on the team and helps in maintaining smooth workflow.

  4. Adaptability and Flexibility: Autonomous team players are adaptable to changing circumstances and can switch between working independently and collaborating with others as needed.

  5. Accountability and Reliability: They take ownership of their work and are reliable in meeting deadlines and achieving goals. Their accountability ensures that they can be trusted to complete tasks to a high standard.

  6. Interpersonal Skills: They are skilled in building and maintaining positive relationships within the team, which fosters a collaborative and supportive team environment.


Should we all aspire to be Autonomous Team Players?

Yes, aspiring to be an autonomous team player is generally beneficial for both individuals and    

organisations for several reasons:

  1. Enhanced Productivity: Autonomous team players can efficiently manage their tasks, leading to increased productivity. Their ability to work independently reduces the need for micromanagement, allowing team leaders to focus on strategic issues.

  2. Improved Team Dynamics: When team members can function autonomously, the team becomes more agile and adaptable. Each member’s ability to take the initiative and contribute independently enhances the overall effectiveness of the team.

  3. Personal Growth: Developing the skills associated with being an autonomous team player, such as self-motivation, problem-solving, and effective communication, contributes to personal and professional growth. These skills are highly valued in any workplace.

  4. Job Satisfaction: Autonomy in the workplace is often linked to higher job satisfaction. Being trusted to take ownership of tasks and make decisions can lead to a more fulfilling and engaging work experience.

  5. Resilience: Teams composed of autonomous individuals are more resilient to changes and challenges. Each member’s ability to function independently ensures that the team can continue to operate effectively even when faced with disruptions.



Becoming an autonomous team player involves balancing independence with collaboration, a blend that can significantly enhance both individual and team performance. Developing the traits and skills of an autonomous team player can lead to personal growth, improved job satisfaction, and greater overall productivity. Therefore, it is a valuable goal for individuals in any collaborative environment to aspire to.


This accords with my own views, though I wouldn’t claim to always live up to it. I think much of it has wider application  – to society generally – and offers a good way of combining individualism with concern for the wider community. It seems to me to encapsulate the kind of attitude that all humanists should adopt. Hopefully, most of us do.


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