8 Ways to Be ‘Odd Man Out’ on a Team





Employees-arguing-cant-beHave you ever heard the phrase “odd man out? It means you didn’t fit. You don’t measure up for some reason. You were excluded. It hurts.

I’ve been that person numerous times. I get it because I’m pastor sometimes. People assume I can’t also be fun. So they don’t invite me to the party. I experienced it some in business circles. There are haves and have nots in many business circles. I was mostly in the have nots. I’ve even been excluded though for having too much. People assume because I’m not struggling like they are that I probably never have.

We’ve all been excluded at some point in life.

It’s one thing to be “odd man out” by no choice of your own, but it’s another to be that way by choice.

Some people choose to be ” odd man out.” Have you ever thought about that concept? I’ve led or worked with many teams and whether its a few people or many, there can easily be at least one who chooses to be “odd man out.” It may or may not be a conscious decision they’ve made, but they simply don’t fit well with the rest of the team and they got that way by their own decisions.

And it’s a problem. In fact, if unaddressed, it can be dangerous for organizational health. Trying to build consensus or form team spirit becomes more difficult. Morale is infected by the intentional “odd man out.” Spotting this as the problem early can avoid further issues down the road.

In this post, I’ll address some ways this occurs or symptoms of the issue. I will do it in a satirical fashion, but it should help spot the “odd man out” on your team. In a future post, I’ll share some thoughts on how to address it as a leader.

Here are 8 ways to be the “odd man out” on a team:

  • Be resistant to every change – Whenever a new idea is presented, always be the first to say it won’t work. You don’t have to have a reason. Just oppose it.
  • Always be negative … about everything – See the glass half-empty. Always. There’s nothing good about this…place…leader…idea…day…life.
  • Always have an excuse – It’s not your fault. It’s someone else’s fault. Of course it is.
  • Never have a solution – It’s your job to point out problems, not to help solve them. You don’t care to build … you’re here to tear down. And, you intend to do your job well.
  • Hold opinions until after the decision has been made – That way, no one can blame you. But, you can clearly see and say how things should have been done. Make sure you tell everyone.
  • Talk behind people’s back – Never go to the source. It stirs more drama if you talk about someone rather than to someone. Make sure you talk behind the leader’s back too. Negativity spreads even faster that way.
  • Refuse to participate in any team social activities – Who needs them, right? You’re here to work … I mean complain … why would you want to hang out with people when you have plenty of time to make life miserable for others during work hours?
  • Don’t buy into the vision – Actually, for best results, work against the vision. Maybe even have a vision of your own. And, you can keep it to yourself, too, as long as you work against the vision of the team.

Of course, these are written with sarcasm, but you get the idea. Have you ever worked with anyone like this? Did you spot the “odd man out” on the team? You may want to share with them 12 Ways to Make Yourself a Valuable Team Member.

To be clear, I’m not advocating always agreeing with a team. I’m often “odd man out” on my team, because I love big ideas, but hopefully I will do so in a spirit of cooperation, not a spirit of disruption.

What tips would you add for a person to be “odd man out?”

Ron Edmondson is a pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky. He is also a church leadership consultant passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Prior to ministry, Ron had more than 20 years of business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner. Follow Ron on Facebook, Twitter, and his blog at ronedmondson.com.

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