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The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues Hardcover – April 26, 2016
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"The author offers concrete tools to identify and engage ideal teammates who are capable of sustainably imnproving the performance of the company." (Business Digest, June 2017). The Ideal Team Player is a quick, engaging, and informative read great for the beach or your next trip. (Opensource, June 2016) A book Lencioni fans were waiting for (The Marketing Society, July 2016)
From the Inside Flap
"You guys really dropped the ball on the teamwork project."
They didn't say anything, so Jeff continued, focusing on Bobby. "You said it wasn't just posters and t-shirts, but what else was it?" Before they could answer, he went on. "Because you don't seem to know what you mean when you talk about team players."
"We didn't say" Clare wanted to explain, but Jeff wouldn't let her.
"Oh wait. I forgot." Jeff was being sarcastic, but not rude. "You do have one clear definition. A person can't be a jackass."
They laughed, but in a guilty sort of way.
In his classic best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni laid out a groundbreaking, new approach for attacking the dangerous group behaviors that destroy teamwork. Here, he turns his focus to the individual member of a team, revealing the three indispensable virtues that make some people better team players than others.
Lencioni's latest page-turning fable is the story of a leader desperate to save his company by cracking the code on the virtues that define a true team player. Jeff Shanley takes over his family's locally revered construction firm and realizes that the only way to deliver on the two biggest projects in the company's history is to rapidly build a culture of hiring and development around those virtues.To do that, he'll have to confront and risk losing talented employees who don't know how to work on a team, and convince his fiery VP of operations not to lower the company's hiring standards in the face of short-term business pressure.
Beyond the fable, Lencioni presents a powerful framework and easy-to-use tools for identifying, hiring, and developing ideal team players in any kind of organization.Whether you're a leader striving to create a culture of teamwork, a human resources professional looking to hire real team players, or an employee wanting to make yourself an invaluable team member, The Ideal Team Player will prove
to be as practical as it is compelling.
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STEP 1. Order four copies of Patrick Lencioni's new book, The Ideal Team Player.
STEP 2. Hand-deliver the book, along with a Starbucks card, to each of my direct reports, with this assignment: "Invest up to four hours at Starbucks this week—and read this important book. It's likely the most team-transforming exercise we’ll do together this year."
STEP 3. Schedule a half-day off-site team meeting (for next week) to discuss "How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues” (the book’s sub-title).
STEP 4. Facilitate the senior team meeting (or invite a facilitator to do the honors) and get buy-in and commitment (a la Lencioni's pyramid in The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business). Assign next steps.
STEP 5. Step back and watch your culture transform as you articulate three virtues: Humble, Hungry, and People Smart.
Wow! Patrick Lencioni has done it again! This is one powerful book--and maybe his funniest. In his classic "leadership fable" format (example: Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business), Lencioni delivers a page-turning business story. New CEO. Two direct reports. Massive dysfunction. New hires needed yesterday. (Sound familiar?)
But there's another problem: the top three leaders cannot define the "ideal team player” qualities. (Can you?) Half of the people they hire either quit or are terminated. Finally…finally, they agree on one virtue:
"Maybe our new slogan should be
'no jackasses allowed.'
That would make a great poster."
So, in search of more acceptable lingo and meaning, the leadership triad lands on Humble, Hungry, and Smart. Lencioni defines these virtues in the final 60 pages (The Model and application), worth the price of the book.
HUMBLE: "Great team players lack excessive ego or concerns about status." He adds, "Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player."
HUNGRY: "Hungry people almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent."
SMART: "Smart simply refers to a person's common sense about people."
Caution #1: What if you settle for just one out of three? Or, if you're fortunate, two out of three virtues? After all, no one's perfect.
Lencioni: "What makes humble, hungry, and smart powerful and unique is not the individual attributes themselves, but rather the required combination of all three."
His memorable labels for the "one out of three" prospects are caution enough:
--Humble Only: The Pawn
--Hungry Only: The Bulldozer
--Smart Only: The Charmer
What About 2 Out of 3?
“The next three categories that we'll explore represent people who are more difficult to identify because the strengths associated with them often camouflage their weaknesses.
“Team members who fit into these categories lack only one of the three traits and thus have a little higher likelihood of overcoming their challenges and becoming ideal team players. Still, lacking even one in a serious way can impede the team building process.”
Caution #2: Don’t use the following labels at work—but they are perfect descriptors for your “2 out of 3” team members:
--Hungry and Humble, but Not Smart: The Accidental Mess-Maker
--Humble and Smart, but Not Hungry: The Lovable Slacker
--Hungry and Smart, but Not Humble: The Skillful Politician
Watch out for the banana peel when you’re interviewing a candidate without humility. "Unfortunately, because they are so smart, Skillful Politicians are very adept at portraying themselves at being humble, making it hard for leaders to identify them and address their destructive behaviors."
Lencioni urges: Don't hire unless you and your team members can positively affirm a three-for-three person. I know. It's not easy, but read the book, and you'll be absolutely convinced.
Lencioni packs the last 60 pages with highly practical insights, warnings, and next steps. He lists very practical ways to assess your current team members and what to do with the 0-for-3, 1-for-3, and 2-for-3 people already on your team. He gives solutions, including a helpful self-assessment with 18 questions.
See you at Starbucks!
P.S. By the way, Andrew Murray’s insights in Humility will whack you between your selfies (in just 59 pages): “Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.”
In his 2002 bestseller, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni outlined five ways teamwork goes awry: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. While that book identified the interpersonal dynamics of effective teams, it did not identify the personal qualities of effective team members. Lencioni’s new book, The Ideal Team Member, picks up where Five Dysfunctions left off and outlines three essential “virtues”: An ideal team member is humble, hungry, and smart.
Humility comes first because it is “the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.” Humble team players are not “overtly arrogant,” of course, but they do not “lack self-confidence” either. Rather, quoting C. S. Lewis, Lencioni writes, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Humility makes collective action possible. Without it, teams don’t work effectively, because each member is either out for themselves ( due to overt arrogance) or unable to propose solutions (because of lack of self-confidence).
“Hungry people are always looking for more,” writes Lencioni. They are “self-motivated and diligent.” For a team to work effectively, each team member must proactively contribute to the overall effort. No slackers are allowed.
Smart doesn’t pertain to “intellectual capacity,” though it’s similar to emotional intelligence. Lencioni defines it as “a person’s common sense about people…the ability to be interpersonally appropriate and aware.” Ideal team members are people-smart.
After defining these three virtues, Lencioni outlines why and how they must work together. “If even one is missing in a team member, teamwork becomes significantly more difficult and sometimes not possible.” A team member who is only humble and hungry, for example, becomes an “accidental mess-maker” because they are constantly—albeit unintentionally—stepping on others’ toes. One who is only humble and smart is a “lovable slacker,” liked by all, but only willing to exert minimum necessary effort. Someone who is only hungry and smart is a “skillful politician,” which Lencioni describes as being “cleverly ambitious and willing to work extremely hard, but only in as much as it will benefit them personally.”
Although Lencioni wrote The Ideal Team Member for the secular business world, my description of its contents should convince ministers that it has application to the work of local churches as well. (Indeed, Lencioni—a devout Catholic—notes that Jesus Christ is the “most compelling example of humility in the history of mankind.”) The humble-hungry-smart model gives senior pastors and ministers who lead volunteers valuable insights into who to hire, how to assess their performance, what can be done to develop them when they lack one or more of the virtues, and how to embed those virtues in a church’s organizational culture. Consequently, I highly recommend this book to ministers and ministry leaders.
One final note: As with The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Ideal Team Player begins with what Lencioni calls “a leadership fable.” He tells the story of the CEO of a family-owned building company who discovers these three virtues in the course of taking over the reins of the company from his uncle. Only after telling the fable does Lencioni describe the humble-hungry-smart model in propositional terms. This narrative way of approaching the subject shows before it tells. This makes Lencioni’s points concrete and easy to understand. The show-then-tell approach is also, it seems to me, a great way to preach…though that is a subject for another time.