Patrick Lencioni in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a team” talks of group behaviours that destroy team work – absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results.
In his latest book, “The Ideal Team Player”, Lencioni focusses on the three virtues of an individual team member and how they are important in building great teams. The three virtues are Humility, Hungry and Smart.
According to CS Lewis, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”. Great team players lack excessive ego or concerns about status. They are quick to point out the contributions of other team members and are either slow or do not seek attention for their own. For them the team is more important than the self, they share credit, and define success collectively rather than individually
Hungry people are the “give me more” type of people – more things to do, more to learn, more responsibility to take on. Being “hungry” is about having a manageable sustainable commitment in doing a job well and going above and beyond when required. They are always thinking about the next step and the next opportunity.
Smarts refers to a person’s common sense about people. They know what is happening in a group situation and how to deal with others in an effective manner. They are curious, ask good questions, listen to what others are saying and stay engaged in conversations intently. They have good judgement and intuition around the subtleties of group dynamics and the impact of their words or action.
Ideal Team Player
An Ideal Team Player would have all the three virtues in combination. The Ideal Team Player is vulnerable, builds trust, engages in productive abut uncomfortable conflict, commit to group decisions even if they initially disagree, hold their peers accountable when they see performance gaps and put the results of the team ahead of their own needs.
Those who lack all three qualities have little chance of being valuable team members. It would take great effort over long period of time for them to develop the capacity for all three, let alone two or even one.
Here are the characteristics of individuals who have only one or two of these virtues.
Humble Only – The Pawn
“Pawns” are pleasant, kind hearted unassuming people who don’t feel an urgency to get things done and don’t have the ability to build effective relationships with colleagues. They often get left out of conversations and activities and have little impact on the performance of a team. “Pawns” can survive quite a long time on teams that value harmony and don’t demand performance.
Hungry Only – The Bulldozer
“Bulldozers” are determined to get things done, but with a focus on their own interests and with no understanding or concern for how their actions impact others. They are quick destroyers of teams. In organizations that emphasizes on production alone, bulldozers can thrive and go uncorrected for long periods of times.
Smart only – The Charmer
People who are smart, but sorely lacking in humility and hunger are “Charmers”. They can be entertaining and even likeable for a while, but have little interest in the long-term well-being of the team. Their social skills can sometimes help them survive longer than bulldozers or pawns, but often their contributions to the teams are negligible, they often wear out their welcome quickly.
Humble and Hungry, but not Smart – The Accidental Mess maker
They genuinely want to help and serve the team and are not too interested in getting undue credit and attention. However, they lack understanding of how their words are actions are received by others in the team will lead to interpersonal problems. While colleagues will respect their work ethic and sincere desire to be helpful, those colleagues can get tired of having to clean up the emotional and inter personal problems that this group often leaves behind. Accidental Mess Makers have no bad intentions and can usually take corrective feedback in good humor.
Humble and Smart, but not Hungry – The Lovable Slacker
They are extremely good at working with and caring about colleagues. Unfortunately, they tend to do only as much as they are asked and rarely seek to take on more work or volunteer for extra assignments. They have limited passion for the work – he and the team are doing. Lovable slackers need significant motivation and oversight or else they could pull down the performance of the team.
Hungry and smart, but not Humble – The Skillful Politician
These people are ambitious, willing to work extremely hard, but only in as much as it will benefit them personally. Skillful politicians, being smart, they are adept in portraying themselves as being humble, making it hard for leaders to identify them and address their destructive behaviors. By the time the leader sees what’s going on, the politician may have created a trail of destruction among their humbler colleagues.
Humble, Hungry and Smart – The Ideal Team Player
Ideal team players possess all the three virtues humility – hunger and people smarts, in equal measure. They do not take credit for their contributions and are comfortable in sharing their accolades with other team members. Ideal team players are passionate, work with high energy and take personal responsibility taking on whatever they possibly can for the good of the team. They do and say the right things to help team mates feel appreciated, understood, and included even when difficult situations arise that require tough love.
So, having known the virtues of the “Ideal Team Player” – where can you apply them? Lencioni says the model could be great in hiring, assessing current employees and developing them into great team players and embedding them into the organization culture.