Nala, our retriever, and I were navigating through a minefield of goose droppings. I was concerned where our steps landed. Not Nala! She was good to return home dirtied from our incursion into fowl territory.
I was distracted from my scouting duties by the audio book in my earbuds. What I was hearing just made sense. I thought of the teams I knew. Some were related to work, other were informal. But what Lencioni was saying rung true. An ideal team player is humble, hungry and smart.
That’s who we want to work with. That’s who we want to be.
Being humble is the first and the chief characteristic of an ideal team player. This does not mean that they have nothing to offer the team. They do. But they think about the team and its goals before they think about themselves and their goals. They don’t need to monopolize attention or affirmation. Rather they are comfortable with highlighting the accomplishments of others.
Lencioni’s quick definition of humble is:
little ego; focusing more on their teammates than on themselves.
An ideal team player brings an appetite for hard work. Gaps in knowledge or skills are opportunities to lean in and learn. They don’t need a boost, prod or push. They are diligent in their pursuit of the team’s success.
Lencioni says it this way:
Hungry, meaning they have strong work ethic, are determined to get things done and contribute any way they can.
The third key characteristic is smart, or to be more precise, people smarts. They demonstrate emotional intelligence in their interactions with others. Their judgment for what behaviour is appropriate is spot-on.
Here is the short definition Lencioni gives:
Smart, meaning not intellectually smart but inner personally smart. They understand the dynamics of a group of people and how to say and do things and have a positive outcome on those around them.
The Simple Filter
Lencioni’s mantra of humble, hungry and smart brings clarity to hiring or recruiting team players. The formula is simple but not simplistic. It helps us zero in on what traits are critical to creating and developing a winning team culture. Conversely, it helps us to avoid the goose poop of dysfunctional teams.
Here are some resources to assist you in developing a stronger team:
- The Ideal Team Player – Tools and Resources
- Video Summary: The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni