I recently read “The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues,” Patrick Lencioni’s recent book. (Jossey-Bass, April 2016). If you are interested in improving teamwork in your organization, then this is a must read. Like most of his books, Lencioni uses a fable to help convey his points. If you are not into fables, fully one-third of this book provides descriptions of each behavior, how they relate with one another, and tips for practical application.

Lencioni’s focus is on the characteristics of ideal team players. Since I am personally interested in how effective leadership teams drive successful transformational change, I see his formula as a basic ingredient for successful teams and therefore successful results/change. If you don’t have every one of your leadership on board with the change, you won’t be successful.

Spoiler alert: The three characteristics of an ideal team player according to Lencioni are:
1. Humility.
2. Hungry – a willingness to work hard.
3. Smart – about working with people, or as some call it, emotional intelligence.

I believe that many root causes of team dysfunction, and therefore unsuccessful change, are due to team members who struggle with at least one of these.

No model is perfect. The application of this model requires understanding how these characteristics work together, and the dynamic when one or two are lacking. Lencioni further warns us not to underestimate an individual because they are particularly strong in one area; they may be strong enough in all three characteristics.

Call to Action
1. Read the book. It will take you 3.5 hours.
2. Facilitate a meeting with your direct reports to evaluate your managers at level 3 (you are level 1).
3. Build a development plan to strengthen the areas that required improvement. Note, these characteristics can be learned.

Final thought. Long ago, I had an employee on my team who was technically brilliant and worked long hours. He did not, however, exhibit humility or have much in the way of people smarts. His arrogant, condescending and combative nature was enormously disruptive and detrimental to the team and our purpose. After unsuccessful attempts to rehabilitate him, I had to let him go.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

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