What does it mean when someone says, “that person is a real team player?” Is it more than simply thinking the person is unselfish? What are the essential qualities of a team player? In his latest book, The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni skillfully introduces three virtues of the ideal team player: humble, hungry, and smart. Lencioni goes on to describe each virtue.
Humble – 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.
Hungry – 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.
Smart – 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. Some 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.
When team members are adequately strong in each of these areas possessing significant humility, hunger, and people smarts, they enable teamwork by making it relatively easy for members to overcome the five dysfunctions of a team. This means they’ll be more likely to be vulnerable and build trust, engage in productive and possibly uncomfortable conflict with team members, and commit to group decisions even if they initially disagree. They will also hold their peers accountable when they see performance gaps that can be addressed, and put the results of the team ahead of their own needs.
This model for the ideal team player has implications for hiring, assessing current employees, developing employees who are lacking in one more of these virtues, and making these virtues part of the culture of an organization.
If you would like to assess these virtues for yourself, you may go the the Effective Ministry Teams website and take the assessment taken from The Ideal Team Player book.