April 4, 2023

We’re big fans of Patrick Lencioni and one of the things we’ve really come to appreciate is his thoughtfulness about what makes an ideal team player.

We all have our thoughts about who we want to hire and what qualifications we want them to have. We’re often focused on the characteristics that we believe will make a person successful in their role. But that’s not enough. We also need employees who can genuinely play on a team and this is where Lencioni provides some thoughtful insight.

Employees who can genuinely succeed as part of a team possess three key characteristics: humility, hunger, and people smarts. According to Lencioni, individuals who exhibit these traits are more likely to become ideal team players, and teams composed of such players are more likely to achieve success.

Lencioni defines humility as the ability to place the needs of the team above one’s own needs. Humble individuals are willing to admit when they don’t know something, ask for help, and acknowledge the contributions of others. They do not seek the spotlight and are not concerned with getting credit for their own ideas. Instead, they focus on the collective success of the team.

Secondly, Lencioni defines hunger as a strong desire to succeed and a willingness to work hard to achieve goals. Hungry individuals are self-motivated and have a strong work ethic. They are willing to go above and beyond what is expected of them and are not satisfied with simply meeting the minimum requirements of their job.

Finally, Lencioni defines people smarts as the ability to understand and work effectively with others. Individuals with people smarts are able to build positive relationships with their colleagues, communicate effectively, and resolve conflicts in a constructive manner. They are empathetic and able to put themselves in the shoes of others, which allows them to work collaboratively and contribute to the success of the team.

When all three of these traits are present in an individual, they become an ideal team player. Having just one or two of these traits can still be valuable for a team. For example, someone who is hungry and people smart but lacks humility may still be a valuable contributor to the team, but they may need to work on their humility to truly become an ideal team player.

Lencioni suggests that organizations can assess potential team players by asking interview questions that relate to these three traits. For example, they may ask candidates to describe a time when they had to work on a team and how they contributed to its success. By looking for evidence of humility, hunger, and people smarts in a candidate’s responses, organizations can ensure that they are hiring individuals who are likely to become ideal team players.

Furthermore, it’s important to develop these traits in current employees. You can provide training and development opportunities to help employees improve their humility, hunger, and people smarts. And we can help.

If you feel that the cohesion of your team could be stronger, reach out to your Coach or contact us and we’d be happy to work with you to make your team stronger.