Three Virtues of Ideal Team Players: Humble, Hungry, and Smart

The Ideal
Team Player book

I liked the fable in The Ideal Team Player (on Amazan) by Patrick Lencioni.  Having been in a corporation that fostered team-building and coming from family with construction (from ditch-digging to carpentry and many things in between), I understood the analogy.  The primary point of the book is hiring the right people for your company culture can increase team-building as well as result in efficiency.  It takes the concept of cohesive teams from building teams within an organization to filling them with the right membership. If you work in Human Resources or are a manager/leader with hiring responsibilities, you should want to read this book.

The Ideal Team Player model contains three virtues that the ideal team player must have:  humility, hunger, and people-smarts.  Lencioni says "What makes humble, hungry, and smart powerful is not the individual attributes, but rather the required combination of all three.  If even one is missing in a team member, teamwork becomes significantly more difficult, and sometime not possible."  

More detail on the virtues follows the fable in the 57 pages on why the model is important for teamwork and how-to use the model in a company.  To see a short description of each trait and a drawing of the model, read Hiring the Best Playersfor Your Team.  In the model section, Lencioni warns about hiring people who only possess one of the three traits:  Humble/Pawn, Hungry/Bulldozer, and Smart/Charmer.  He also helps us understand that here are different levels of people within companies that only have two of the three virtues that may require performance development towards getting the third trait. Each of these has a difficulty level: Low/Accidental Mess-maker can be trained to change, Medium/Lovable Slacker will require a lot of time to change, and High/Skillful Politician most likely will not change. For suggestions on how to spot these six people, read the book or visit Three Essential Virtues.

Lencioni suggests four ways to apply the three virtues in an organization.
1. Hiring, includes both interviewing and checking references.
2. Assessing current employees against the model.
3. Developing employees who are lacking in one of more virtues.
4. Embedding the model in company's culture.

For #2, using pages 192-193 of the book, Lencioni suggests team members self-evaluate themselves against the three virtues:  humble, hungry, and smart.  Lencioni offers that same Ideal Team Player Self Evaluation free as a printable 1-page PDF on his company website.  He also offers a free Manager’s Assessment for Direct Reports on his site for #2.  For #3 he suggests coaching and  DISC.  For #4, he talks mostly about performance management - first I suggest change management. For #1, many of the sample interview questions from the book are also available in an Interview Guide on the website, which I think is very generous of the author.

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