The Ideal Team Player – Global Leadership Summit, Session 4


Are some people simply better at being part of a team? This is the questions Patrick Lencioni posed in Session 4 of the Global Leadership Summit.  He goes on to describe the different values that create a team player, what can be done to grow them, and how to recognize them.

Most team players with possess at least one of the following three core values, but it is the combination of all three values that makes a true team player.

#1 Humility.  Team Players are more interested in others than themselves; never ego driven. A lack of self-confidence can be a false read of humility, but this trait is not about thinking less of yourself, but simply more of others.  When a team member is just humble, though, not hungry or smart, they are The Pawn.  This person is not very effective on a team. They need our prayers, but should not be invited to join the leadership team.

#2 Hunger.  Team Players do whatever is necessary to get something done.  If this person lacks humility and smarts, they quickly become The Bulldozer, leaving a trail of broken people behind them as they “get stuff done”. They are easy to identify, but hang around an organization for a while.

#3 Smarts. Team Players are people smart, not just intellectually smart. They are able to adjust their behavior to adapt and have common sense around people. In fact, those that appear intelligent but treat people poorly are simply smart at all.  The Charmer has smarts but lacks humility and hunger.  This is typically the office comedian who doesn’t get much done and fairly easy to spot.

Things get really difficult when working with people who possess more than one of these three virtues.  They are harder to spot, but two out of three is still not enough.

Humble + Hungry (but not Smart) = The Accidental Mess Maker
This is the person you make excuses for.  They are well-intentioned but you often have to come behind them and cover up their messes.

Humble + Smart (but not Hungry) = The Lovable Slacker
They are well-liked and typically do “just enough” to stay around.

Smart + Hungry (but not Humble) = The Skillful Politician
This is the most dangerous and hardest to spot.  This person knows how to make themselves look humble.

So how does this help you be a better leader?

Step One: Use this tool to develop your people. Have everyone rank themselves with each criteria, best through worst.  Group them by their weakness and have them brainstorm ideas to improve. Bring the whole team back together to discuss next steps, with the leader sharing first.

Step Two: Help them get better. When leaders develop people, they have to have the courage to actually talk to them and help them.  Currently, you might avoid talking to them about this issue or challenge, but when you have that open and honest conversation, there are two possible outcomes: the person in question will get better or simply opt out on their own. Both these options are better and more dignified then letting them stay in the condition they are in and be miserable.  When not called out on their “stuff”, bad things continue to happen.

How to Make Better Hires
First, change the hiring process. We over-emphasize technical skills. We need to be looking for hungry, humble, and smart.  Just look at the NFL:  They hired Johnny Manziel over Teddy Bridgewater. If the NFL gets it wrong focused on technical skills versus behavior, we certainly do in our environments.

Get potential candidates out of the office so that you can see them in a normal environment:  a mall, a baseball game.  Observe how they act.  And adopt the “Law and Order” method of interviewing, asking candidates the same great question multiple times: “So how do you deal with conflict?”

Ask what other people might say about them, and, if you have a hunch, keep digging.  Straight out stop the silo interviews and instead do a group interview so you can evaluate multiple candidates with the same data. Keep looking for humble, hungry, and smart.  Be sure to tell your team and the candidates what you’re looking for, letting them know they will hate it here if they are not wired that way.

Why Should Leadership Matter to Christians
A lot has changed in Lencioni's 13 years of being part of the Summit. Persecution has come to the Western church the last thing we need is weak leaders who shrink back, it’s a time for great leaders.  Leaders full of humility, hunger, and smarts.  May all of us leaders work to develop these traits and be willing to suffer for the cause of Christ.