The Ideal Team Player

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.





Brief Summary of ‘The Skilled Facilitator’

This is a brief summary of the book ‘The Skilled Facilitator’ by Roger Schwartz.  Though this is not a comprehensive summary of the book, this writeup gives a broad overview  of what Facilitation is all about.

Another great book on Facilitation is “The Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making” by Sam Kaner .

Here is the brief summary of the book –> brief-summary-of-the-skilled-facilitator

Brief Summary of Mastering Leadership

I just finished reading “Mastering Leadership” by Bob Anderson and Bill Adams – a great read on Leadership.  I feel this book along with “Leadership Agility” by Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs covers most of the bases required to understand Leadership competencies, the different levels of leadership and Leadership models to develop great leaders.

Here is a brief summary of the book –>  brief-summary-of-mastering-leadership

Brief Summary of “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni

I just finished reading the “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni after seeing lots of good reviews on Amazon.  While  “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” was about team behaviour, the Ideal team player is about the the three virtues of an ideal team player – Humility, Hunger and People Smarts.

Quite similar to “The Five Dysfunctions”, the concepts are brought out through a leadership fable in a very interesting manner.   Towards the end of the book, Lencioni connects the Ideal Team Player model to the Five Dysfunctions. When team members improve their abilities to be humble, hungry or smart, they will be able to make progress in overcoming the five dysfunctions.

Overall a great read – a good complement to “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”.

Here is a brief summary of the Ideal Team Player model  –> brief-summary-of-the-ideal-team-player

Brief summary of “Turn the Ship Around”

Here is a brief summary of ‘Turn the Ship Around” by David Marquet – a great leadership book which talks about how great leaders follow a “Leader-Leader” structure instead of  a “Leader-Follower” structure by giving up control, by being competent by pushing decision making to the lower levels of the organization and providing a clarity of purpose.  A truly excellent read.

Here is the link to the summary  –> brief-summary-of-turn-the-ship-around

Here is a 10 minute video based on his book.

Brief Summary of “Humble Inquiry – The Gentle art of Asking instead of Telling”

Here is a brief summary of the book ‘ Humble Inquiry – The Gentle Art of Asking instead of Telling’ by Edgar Schein.

  • Humble Inquiry is the basis for building trusting relationships which facilitates better communication and thereby ensures collaboration where is needed to get the job done.
  • Telling puts the other person down. It implies that the other person does not already know what I am telling and that the other person ought to know it.
  • Asking temporarily empowers the other person in the conversation and temporarily makes me vulnerable. It implies that the other person knows something that I need to or want to know.
  • The form of asking through Humble Inquiry shows interest in the other person, signals a willingness to listen, and thereby temporarily empowers the other person. It implies a temporary state of dependence on another, and therefore implies a kind of ‘Here and Now Humility’.
  • Humility in the most general sense refers to granting someone else a higher status than one claims for oneself. The three kinds of humility are
    • Basic Humility – In traditional societies where status is ascribed by birth or social position, humility is not a choice but a condition – “the Upper Class” is granted an intrinsic respect based on the status one is born into.
    • Optional Humility – In societies where status is achieved through one’s accomplishments, we tend to feel humble in the presence of people who have clearly achieved more than we have, and we either admire or envy them.
    • Here and Now Humility – this is how I feel when I am dependent on you. My status is inferior to yours at this moment because you know something or can do something that I need in order to accomplish some task or goal that I have chosen.
  • When you are dependent on someone to get a task accomplished, it is essential that you build a relationship with that person that will lead to open task-related communication.
  • Humble Inquiry implies a desire to build a relationship that will lead to more open communication. It also implies that one makes oneself vulnerable and thereby, arouses positive helping behavior to the other person.  It is about an attitude of interest and curiosity.
  • There are four different forms of inquiry
    • Humble Inquiry
    • Diagnostic Inquiry
    • Confrontational Inquiry
    • Process-oriented Inquiry
  • Humble Inquiry
    • Maximizes my curiosity and interest in the other person and minimizes bias and preconceptions about the other person.
    • I want to access my ignorance and ask for information in the least biased and threatening way.
    • I really want to inquire in the way that will best discover what is really on the other person’s mind.
    • Humble Inquiry does not influence either the content of what the other person has to say, nor in the form in which it is said.
  • Diagnostic Inquiry – This is a form of Humble Inquiry but steers the conversation and influence the other person’s mental process in unknown ways. This can be further classified by what the questioner’s diagnostic focus is.
    • Feelings and Reactions – questions that focus others on their feelings and reactions in response to the events they have described or the problems they have been identified. Asking about feelings in way to personalize the relationship, which may or may not be appropriate in the situation you are in at the moment.  g. How did you feel about that?
    • Causes and motives – questions about motivation or about causes that focus the others on their motivations in relation to something they have been talking about. g. why did that happen?
    • Action Oriented – questions that focus others on what they did, are thinking about doing, or plan to do in the future. g.  What have you tried so far?  What are you going to do next?
    • Systemic Questions – questions that build understanding of the total solution. This form of questioning can be very powerful if you and the other have agreed to explore a situation in detail. g. What did he do then?  How do you think she felt when you did that?
  • Confrontational Inquiry – the essence of confrontational inquiry is that you now insert your own ideas, but in the form of a question.
    • The question may be based on curiosity or interest, but is now in connection with your own interests.  g. “Did that not make you angry?”  Vs “How does that that make you feel?”
    • Timing, tone of voice and various other cues tell the listener about your motives.
  • Process-Oriented Inquiry – This shifts the conversational focus onto the conversation itself.
    • It focuses on the relationship and enables both parties to assess whether their relationship goals are being met.
    • Used with humility this kind of inquiry is probably also the most difficult to learn because our culture does not support it as normal conversation.
    • This however, is often the most powerful way to get out of awkward or difficult conversations because it allows both parties to reset, to restate what they are there for, what they want, and in their ways, re-calibrate their expectations. g. What is happening here? Have we gone too far?
  • Humble Inquiry is necessary if we want to build a relationship beyond rudimentary civility, because we may find ourselves in various kinds of inter dependencies in which open, task relevant information must be conveyed across status boundaries.
  • It is only by learning to be more humbly inquiring can we build up the mutual trust needed to work together and open up communication channels.


Books .. Books .. Books

These are a list of books compiled from various sources.     Here are a few links to a list of books suggested by Dominic Krimmer for Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, Leadership and Developers.

  1. Agile coaching  —
  2. Developers –
  3. Leadership –
  4. Product Owners –
  5. Scrum Masters –


Srl # Book Author/s
1 Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances J. Richard Hackman
2 Leading Self-Directed Work Teams: A Guide to Developing New Team Leadership Skills  Kimball Fisher
3 The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performan ce Organization Douglas Smith, Jon Katzenbach
4 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable  Patrick M. Lencioni
5 Fast Cycle Time: How to Align Purpose, Strategy, and Structure for Speed  Christopher Meyer
6 Revolutionizing Product Development: Quantum Leaps in Speed, Efficiency and Quality Steven C. Wheelwright, Kim B. Clark
7 Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams Tom DeMarco, Tim Lister
8 Software for Your Head Jim McCarthy, Michele McCarthy
9 A Sense of Urgency John Kotter
10 Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases Through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation Jez Humble, David Farley
11 Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling Edgar H Schein
12 Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Laura Whitworth
13 The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers and Coaches Roger Schwarz
14 Kanban Change Leadership Klaus Leopold, Siegfried Kaltenecker
15 The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever Michael Bungay Stanier
16 Scrumban: Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development Corey Ladas
17 The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
18 Perfect Software: And Other Illusions About Testing Gerald M. Weinberg
19 The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully Gerald Weinberg
20 An Introduction to General Systems Thinking Gerald M. Weinberg
21 Kanban from the Inside: Understand the Kanban Method, connect it to what you already know, introduce it with impact Mike Burrows
22 Practices for Scaling Lean and Agile Development: Large, Multisite, and Offshore Product Development with Large-Scale Scrum  by Craig Larman, Bas Vodde
23 The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization: Second edition Peter M Senge
24 Specification by Example: How Successful Teams Deliver the Right Software Gojko Adzic
25 The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance Josh Waitzkin
26 Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change Kent Beck, with Cynthia Andres
27 Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-based Management Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton
28 Taiichi Ohnos Workplace Management: Special 100th Birthday Edition Taiichi Ohno
29 The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses Eric Ries
30 Running Lean Ash Maurya
31 Scaling Lean and Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum: Successful Large, Multisite and Offshore Products with Large-scale Scrum by Vodde Craig Larman, Bas
32 Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships Eric Berne
33 Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life Marshall B. Rosenberg
34 The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford
35 Mastery (Plume) George Leonard
36 The Tao of Coaching: Boost Your Effectiveness at Work by Inspiring and Developing Those Around You Max Landsberg
37 Beyond the Goal: Theory of Constraints Eliyahu M. Goldratt
38 Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead Tom Coens, Mary Jenkins, Peter Block
39 Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent Joel Spolsky
40 The Coach’s Casebook: Mastering The Twelve Traits That Trap Us Geoff Watts, Kim Morgan
41 The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, Chris Yeh
42 The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey Kenneth Blanchard, William, Jr. Oncken, Hal Burrows
43 Originals: How Non-conformists Change the World Adam Grant
44 Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Daniel Pink
45 Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong Norman Fischer
46 Servant Leadership : A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness Robert K. Greenleaf
47 Agile Coaching Rachel Davies, Liz Sedley
48 Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership Geoff Watts
49 Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition Lyssa Adkins
50 Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide to Ending the Pursuit of Happiness Barry Magid
51 The End of Leadership Barbara Kellerman
52 Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage in Human Consciousness Frederic Laloux
53 Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business David J. Anderson, Donald G Reinertsen
54 Agile Retrospectives : Making Good Teams Great (Pragmatic Programmers) Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, Ken Schwaber
55 The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be Moises Naim
56 Fearless Change Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising
57 Lean change Management Jason Little
58 Switch Chip and Dan Heath
59 Innovation Games Luke Hohmann
60 Joy Inc Richard Sheridan
61 Essential Scrum Kenneth Rubin
62 The Agile Mindset Gil Broza
63 Flow Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
64 Mindset – the new psychology of success Carol Dweck
65 Turn the ship around David Marquet
66 Team of Teams General Stanley McChrystal and Tantum Collins
67 Creativity Inc Ed Catmull
68 Start with Why Simon Sinek
69 Agile Testing Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory
70 Work Rules Lazlo Block
71 User Story Mapping Jeff Patton
72 Principles of Product Development flow Don Reinertsen
73 Inspire Marty Cagan
74 Agile Product Management with Scrum Roman Pichler
75 Your brain at work David Rock
76 Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose – the Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership John Whitmore
77 Quiet Leadership David Rock
78 Mastering Leadership Robert J. Anderson and William Adams
79 Training from the back of the room Sharon Bowman
80 Thinking Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman
81 Leading Change John Kotter
82 Facilitator′s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making Sam Kaner
83 Game Storming Dave Gray
84 Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise and Other Bribes Alfie Kohn
85 Strategize: Product Strategy and Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age Roman Pichler
86 The Art of Agile Development James Shore