Book of the Quarter: The Ideal Team Player

The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues #ad, by Patrick Lencioni, Copyright © 2016, Published by Josey-Bass, Hoboken, New Jersey ISBN: 9781119209591

I found a good model for interviewing and selecting someone and how that person will work with others. I don’t endorse all the language in the book. The major concepts are excellent.

Here are “mustard seeds” I highlighted:

In my book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, I explained that real teamwork requires tangible, specific behaviors: vulnerability-based trust, healthy conflict, active commitment, peer-to-peer accountability, and a focus on results…they come to possess the three underlying virtues that enable them to be ideal team players: they are humble, hungry, and smart (page ix-l, Kindle Edition).

Leaders who can identify, hire, and cultivate employees who are humble, hungry, and smart will have a serious advantage over those who cannot (page x, Kindle Edition).

Great team players lack excessive ego or concerns about status. They are quick to point out the contributions of others and slow to seek attention for their own. They share credit, emphasize team over self, and define success collectively rather than individually. It is no great surprise, then, that humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player (page 157, Kindle Edition).

Hungry people are always looking for more. More things to do. More to learn. More responsibility to take on. Hungry people almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent. They are constantly thinking about the next step and the next opportunity. And they loathe the idea that they might be perceived as slackers (page 159, Kindle Edition).

In some people, hunger can be directed in a selfish way that is not for the good of the team but for the individual. And in some people, hunger can be taken to an extreme where work becomes too important, consuming the identity of an employee and dominating their life. When I refer to hunger here, I’m thinking about the healthy kind—a manageable and sustainable commitment to doing a job well and going above and beyond when it is truly required (page 159, Kindle Edition).

In the context of a team, smart simply refers to a person’s common sense about people. It has everything to do with the ability to be interpersonally appropriate and aware. Smart people tend to know what is happening in a group situation and how to deal with others in the most effective way. They ask good questions, listen to what others are saying, and stay engaged in conversations intently (page 160, Kindle Edition).

Smart people just have good judgment and intuition around the subtleties of group dynamics and the impact of their words and actions. As a result, they don’t say and do things—or fail to say and do things—without knowing the likely responses of their colleagues (page 160, Kindle Edition).

There are a number of questions managers can ask themselves about a given employee to determine whether he or she is humble, hungry, or smart. Here are some good ones. 
Humble 
Does he genuinely compliment or praise teammates without hesitation?
Does she easily admit when she makes a mistake?
Is he willing to take on lower-level work for the good of the team?
Does she gladly share credit for team accomplishments?
Does he readily acknowledge his weaknesses?
Does she offer and receive apologies graciously? 

Hungry 
Does he do more than what is required in his own job?
Does she have passion for the “mission” of the team?
Does he feel a sense of personal responsibility for the overall success of the team?
Is she willing to contribute to and think about work outside of office hours?
Is he willing and eager to take on tedious and challenging tasks whenever necessary?
Does she look for opportunities to contribute outside of her area of responsibility?

Smart 
Does he seem to know what teammates are feeling during meetings and interactions?
Does she show empathy to others on the team?
Does he demonstrate an interest in the lives of teammates?
Is she an attentive listener?
Is he aware of how his words and actions impact others on the team?
Is she good at adjusting her behavior and style to fit the nature of a conversation or relationship?
An ideal team player will merit a “yes” answer to almost every one of these questions. If that seems unrealistic, go back and look at the questions again and imagine which of them would be unnecessary or optional. And remember, we’re looking for ideal team players, not adequate ones (pages 188, 189, Kindle Edition).

Use the scale below to indicate how each statement applies to your actions on the team. Respond as honestly as possible, as this will allow you to most accurately identify any areas of development that you may have. Scale: 3 = Usually 2 = Sometimes 1 = Rarely

Humble 
My teammates would say: 
______ 1. I compliment or praise them without hesitation.
______ 2. I easily admit to my mistakes.
______ 3. I am willing to take on lower-level work for the good of the team.
______ 4. I gladly share credit for team accomplishments.
______ 5. I readily acknowledge my weaknesses.
______ 6. I offer and accept apologies graciously.

______ Total Humility Score

Hungry 
My teammates would say: 
______ 7. I do more than what is required in my own job.
______ 8. I have passion for the “mission” of the team.
______ 9. I feel a sense of personal responsibility for the overall success of the team.
______ 10. I am willing to contribute to and think about work outside of office hours.
______ 11. I am willing to take on tedious or challenging tasks whenever necessary.
______ 12. I look for opportunities to contribute outside of my area of responsibility.

______ Total Hunger Score

Smart 
My teammates would say: 
______ 13. I generally understand what others are feeling during meetings and conversations.
______ 14. I show empathy to others on the team.
______ 15. I demonstrate an interest in the lives of my teammates.
______ 16. I am an attentive listener.
______ 17. I am aware of how my words and actions impact others on the team.
______ 18. I adjust my behavior and style to fit the nature of a conversation or relationship.

______ Total Smart Score (pages 192, 193, Kindle Edition).

Even an employee with a strong but latent sense of hunger will not be transformed immediately. Habits of lethargy often have been instilled over time, and thus, require some time to break. To make that happen, managers and teammates will need to overcome their reticence to call out a non-hungry teammate when they see behaviors that he needs to change. Waiting until a performance review to tell him that he isn’t doing enough to help the team or including that information in an annual three-hundred-sixty-degree feedback program is not only irresponsible, but cruel (page 204, Kindle Edition).

Great team leaders won’t be afraid to call out a simple act of teamwork when they see it. They’ll acknowledge an act of humility, hunger, or people smarts not because they want to be seen as sophisticated or clever managers, but because they want everyone to know exactly what kinds of behavior they expect and appreciate (page 210, Kindle Edition).

To view this book on Amazon, click title or picture. If you buy this, I will receive a commission: The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues

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Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

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