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Are you an “Ideal Team Player”?

As I mentioned last week, I am reading more again. One of the books I just finished, thanks to a friend’s recommendation, was Patrick Lencioni’s, The Ideal Team Player.  He lays out a pretty simple framework to what it takes to be an “ideal team player” and I think he’s come up with some good concepts that we can apply to working with others in partnerships, coalitions and teams.

Usually, my colleagues and I talk about two characteristics – nice and competent – but I think Lencioni brings up some concepts that are related but go a little further than those.  Let’s see how they compare!

The three characteristics he emphasizes include:

  1. Humble: He argues that this may be the most important one of all.  And it makes sense.  Someone who is humble is not only looking out for themselves or what is in it for them.  They recognize that there are other people on the team who also add value to the conversation or project.  This one may be the one I have left out in the “nice and competent” characteristics.  Although someone who is humble may be seen as “nice” because they aren’t always pushing her own agenda, and they may be seen as “competent” because he is not insecure and thus trying to prove himself, I still think it is different. It is often difficult to describe what humble IS, but we definitely know what its NOT. It can be quite destructive to a team environment if a person sees herself as better or more important than other members of the team. Although we all bring different strengths and skills to the team, we need to be cautious that we are not positioning ourselves as better or more important as a result of what we bring to the team.
  2. Hungry: This one focuses on someone who really wants to work hard and does what it takes to make things happen.  This aligns nicely with being “competent” but does go a little further.  It’s possible for a person to be competent and skilled but not use her strengths and skills proactively to benefit the team.  Conversely, I think it’s important to be cautious about this one.  It’s wonderful to be hard working and focused on contributing to the team; however, this one more than any others can be problematic when considering other relationships and priorities.  If you are TOO hungry for your work, then you might leave some of the most important people in your life – family and friends – hungry for their relationship with you again.  Yes, work hard, but be sure to keep boundaries on your work and take time to “pause” before saying yes to often to those work opportunities!
  3. Smart:  This one is most aligns with the “nice” characteristic. When Lencioni suggests a person is “smart”, he proposes she is “people smart.” She knows both what to say and how to say it. He recognizes the team’s dynamics and knows that he might need to adjust his approach or demeanor. She genuinely cares about other people on the team and shows that in her words and actions. He demonstrates empathy and self control.  This concept of “people smart” also aligns well with the concept of Emotional Intelligence.

Do you have these characteristics – humble, hungry and people smart? Can you think of team members who have these – or don’t – have these?  For me, I think there are days I am able to exhibit all three and other days that I need some work on one or more of them!

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