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The Ideal Team Player

We hear many slogans and motivational statements like “Teamwork makes the dream work!” That’s because we innately all know that teamwork is absolutely essential for true success in everything we do. From birth all the way through life, everything worthwhile we try requires help from someone else at some point. They need us, we need them. That’s the way of life.

Patrick Lencioni has written The Ideal Team Player and given us many helpful insights and lessons that will assist us in becoming an asset to the team. This summary of the book may lead you to get the book for yourself.

An ideal team player embodies three significant qualities that when combined provide great power that in turn speeds up and improves the likelihood of building high-performing teams.

Ideal team players are humble. Humility is the most important of the three virtues. These people don’t have huge egos or carry many concerns about their status. They appreciate others and are quick to make certain that the contributions of others are recognized, and they are not at all pushy about their own contributions. They share credit. Team is always more important than self. Success is always team oriented over self and is defined collectively rather than individually.People who are not humble are unable to be vulnerable or build trust and are incapable of engaging in honest conflict.

Ideal team players are hungry. More is the word: more things to do, more to learn, more responsibility. They are so hungry they almost never have to be urged and pushed by a supervisor. They are self-motivated and diligent. The next step and the next opportunity are constantly on their minds. People who lack the virtue of hunger won’t achieve results.

Ideal team players are smart. Lencioni says that in the context of teamwork, being smart is not about a person’s intellectual capacity. Emotionally intelligent, they have common sense about people. They can “read the room.” They usually know what is happening in a group situation and how to effectively deal with others in that situation. They are marked by good judgment and intuition. They ask good questions, listen, and stay engaged. They understand group dynamics, even in their subtleties, and are very conscious of the impact of their words and actions. People who aren’t smart in this regard will create unnecessary problems, especially when involved in productive conflict and holding people accountable for their actions.

These are not inherent traits. People who become great team players are not born that way. However, their life experiences, work history or personal development showed them the value of these traits.

Now, this part is absolutely vital: The reason this model for teamwork is so powerful and unique is that one or two won’t work without all three together. If even one quality is missing in one team member, teamwork becomes significantly more difficult, and quite often actually impossible.

The lack of one or more of the qualities defines a worker in a particular way:

Accidental Mess-maker: These individuals have good intentions, but their lack of social understanding leads them to create accidental people-problems. He’s a nice guy, but many people will never know.

Bulldozer: They work hard, but everything is about them. Because they are not humble and only work hard for themselves without people skills, they accomplish a lot but don’t build the team.

Skillful Politician: This is likely the most toxic team member. These individuals are well liked and work hard and are therefore good at making people think they’re humble, but they often hurt others by acting selfishly. These are the people everyone secretly doesn’t like, but their image enables them to remain liked publicly.

Charmer: These people know how to appease or charm others but ultimately aren’t motivated for the team; instead, they act in their own self-interest. They can be spotted fairly easily because they clearly don’t care about the team’s performance.

Lovable Slacker: Slackers do just enough work and maintain enough personal relationships to stick around. Lovable slackers are hard to weed out of an organization because you tend to care about them a little more than you should. They get to stay without meriting it.

Doormat: This guy stands on the sidelines and just minds his own business while the rest of the team is working really hard. He lowers morale because others have to do more because he is contributing so little.

But the ideal team member? This person is the perfect combination of hunger, smarts, and humility. They work hard, have clear goals, are well liked, and sincerely care about the needs and wants of their team members. They are servant leaders. They go the extra mile and will put in extra hours to help teammates. Even though they are major contributors, they generously praise others and downplay their own contributions. Team players are enjoyable to be around. They earn respect and trust easily, and people willingly follow their leadership because of it.

Lencioni’s book has great stories and illustrations that bring these three qualities and how to develop them for yourself and in your team. Purchasing his book could be a wise investment.

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