The Ideal Team Player is a book by Pat Lencioni based on the principle that to succeed and thrive at work (and with family, friends and community), the most valuable quality is being a team player. Lencioni defines the three basic characteristics required: Hungry, Humble & Smart. The power of this model is all three are required; a deficit in any one of the three makes teamwork challenging.
The Ideal Team Player – The Categories
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Deficient in all three, easy to spot, seldom selected for your teams and quickly deselected.
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Humble Only: The Pawn. Pleasant, kind-hearted people who don’t really get things done and don’t build effective relationships. They don’t make waves, so can survive for a long time on teams that value harmony and don’t demand performance.
Hungry Only: The Bulldozer. Determined to get things done, but focused on their own interests. Bulldozers don’t have an understanding of how their behavior affects others and are quick destroyers of teams. They are easily identified and removed by leaders who value teamwork. In organizations that place a premium on production alone, bulldozers can thrive and do a lot of damage.
Smart Only: The Charmer. Entertaining and likeable, they have little interest in the long-term health of the team. Good social skills, but make little contribution and wear out their welcome quickly.
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Humble and Hungry, but Not Smart: The Accidental Mess-Maker. Genuinely want to serve the team and not out for all the credit, but since they don’t understand how they impact others, they create unintended drama. They are hard-working and want to help, but it gets problematic to have to address the problems they create. The least dangerous of anyone without all three as they respond well to feedback and have good intentions.
Humble and Smart, but Not Hungry: The Lovable Slacker. Not looking for attention and good at building relationships, they just meet minimum performance expectations. They don’t have passion for the work or drive to go above and beyond. It’s easy to keep them because their positive and likable, but they need significant motivation and management, making them a drag on team performance.
Hungry and Smart, but Not Humble: The Skillful Politician. The most dangerous of the 2-out-of-3 category, they are ambitious and hard-working, but only out for themselves. They’re good at portraying themselves as humble because of their people skills, but demonstrate destructive behavior that is hard to identify immediately. They rise in companies that value individual performance over teamwork, and create a trail of destruction among their more humble colleagues.
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Humble, Hungry, Smart: The Ideal Team Player. They work with energy, passion and responsibility to the team, and willingly share or miss accolades. They build positive relationships and make teammates feel appreciated, understood and included.
Love Works is a book by Joel Manby, with principles inspired by 1 Corinthians chapter 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” From this verse, he created a leadership model that embraces love as a behavior, not an emotion.
The Seven Principles
Patient: Have self-control in difficult situations. Leading with love is not an excuse to be “soft” on people. As leaders, we must hold people accountable. Yet at the same time, we must always admonish with patience and respect. Our objective isn’t simply performance; it’s to protect the dignity of the people on our team.
Kind: Show encouragement and enthusiasm. Kindness is intentionally creating and maintaining the right environment in your organization so employees can deliver an enthusiastic guest experience. The goal is to make deposits in people’s emotional bank account, operating on a 3-praises-to-every-1-admonishment ratio. With this model, management is kind to employees, employees are kind to customers, and customers are loyal and enthusiastic. Everybody wins.
Trusting: Place confidence in those around you. Leaders must trust their employees to perform their best. You can show this trust by listening well and not interrupting with your own ideas, and letting employees make and be involved in decisions they are responsible for. Trusting the people we work with is crucial to building a climate of positive morale and results.
Unselfish: Think of yourself less. Being unselfish isn’t just for individuals—it’s for organizations too. The gift of leadership brings with it the awesome responsibility of sharing our time and resources, which includes delegating. A leader who delegates not only becomes more efficient, but also displays a great level of selflessness. They are able to allow others to make decisions.
Truthful: Define reality corporately and individually. Leading with love means caring enough about an individual or a team to give and solicit truthful feedback. Sometimes this feels out of our comfort zone, but it is healthy and creates the opportunity for great things to happen. When leaders provide their teams with the truth about their performance as well as the tools to be successful, regardless of personal feelings, this is a sure sign of leading with love.
Forgiving: Release the grip of the grudge. Forgiveness is sometimes agonizing, and it doesn’t always lead to a happy ending. I am not suggesting that we toss out our organizational standards and goals—but simply keeping our hearts soft enough to be open to forgiveness. It may not always be the easiest thing to do, but it is always the right thing.
Dedicated: Stick to your values in all circumstances. If you choose to lead with love, others around you may not “get” what you’re doing. Do it anyway. This type of leadership is more important than the temporary approval of your coworkers. Choosing to lead with love is the single most difficult decision a leader can make, but a wise leader dedicates him or herself to it because it is also the single best way to lead an organization.