The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni; Book Review
In fable telling style, Lencioni tells the story of a leader passionately working to get his company back on track by redefining what it means to be a team player and then building a culture around those characteristics. To do so requires commitment and perseverance through difficult conversations, risk and relational stress. It’s a classic case of short-term pain for long-term gain. It’s a quick read, with tremendous insight. Following the fable, Lencioni provides a full description of his Ideal Team Player Model with practical suggestions for implementation.
Lencioni, suggests the three virtues of an ideal team player are humble, hungry and smart.
In short this is the absence of ego or concern about status. These team players are slow to seek attention, quick to share credit and generally emphasize the team over self. They define success collectively, rather than individually.
Many leaders, though they value teamwork, are willing to forgo humility simply to get employees with the desired skills. Then they either fail to see the negative impact of a self-centred person on the team or are unwilling to confront them. This has an overall negative impact on a team’s performance.
Two types of people lack humility seemingly at opposing ends of a spectrum. They are overtly arrogant and over-confident or they are people totally lacking in self-confidence, not understanding their own self-worth. Truly humble people don’t see themselves as greater than they are but neither do they discount their talents and contributions.
Hungry people are just as you might imagine. They are always looking for more. They are self-motivated and diligent, always looking for what’s next, not wanting to be perceived as slackers. Sometimes hunger can be taken to an unhealthy extreme where work becomes too important and all consuming. This is not ideal. A caution to consider when hiring is that many people can falsely project hunger during an interview but in reality they are unmotivated and unproductive.
Lencioni is not referring to intellectual smarts but rather to a person’s self-awareness and relational ability or emotional intelligence. Are they aware of other people and can they develop healthy inter-personal relationships? Do they ask good questions and make productive comments.? Can they interact effectively and provide good judgement in group settings?
The attributes humble, hungry and smart taken individually may seem simple and obvious but it is the three combined that result in ideal team players. If even one virtue is missing, teamwork becomes significantly more difficult. This book is a great read for anyone in an organization from senior levels to the frontlines. There is always more to learn about team building and becoming better team players.