Attributes of The Ideal Team Player

I’ve spent a lot of time in my career building teams. I’ve been a part of great teams and part of highly dysfunctional teams. I’ve seen people step into teams and add tremendous value. I’ve also seen people step into teams and completely disrupt or destroy the team. We’ve all experienced this at some level.

A while back I came across a book written by Patrick Lencioni called The Ideal Team Player. The concepts in the book helped provide a framework for the attributes I evaluate as I’m searching for ideal team players when I build a team. It’s a fascinating book that I highly recommend. It’s a complimentary book to Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a must read book for any leader.

Lencioni introduces three virtues or attributes found in an ideal team player. These hit the nail on the head and these are the attributes I evaluate as I find people and add people to my teams.

Here’s a breakdown of the three attributes:

Humble

Humility has a we-then-me approach to being on a team. Humble people emphasize team over self and are others centered.

These are the people who need little attention or credit for their contributions and check their egos at the door for the greater goal of the broader team. They are comfortable sharing the spotlight with those around them and OK if the spotlight does not shine on them. Insecurity is often the driver for a lack of humility and the felt need to project overconfidence in a team dynamic. That dynamic can be very disruptive for any team.

Lencioni says, “Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.”

CS Lewis says, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Find and add people to your team who demonstrate and are committed to humility.

Hungry

This is all about a teammate having the personal drive to be the very best they can possibly be. They are learners. They take on challenges. They are not afraid to fail. They lead themselves and take personal ownership of their direction and development. They bring energy, passion and personal responsibility.

You don’t have push and push to motivate hungry people. They are self-starters and help people around them get better. Passive, unmotivated, disengaged teammates have real and negative impacts on the functionality of a team and can bring down overall performance.

Find and add people to your team who are hungry.

Smart

I’m not referring to being intellectually smart. It’s important for a team player to be intellectually curious but this is something different. Smart in this instance refers to being people smart. Can you read the room? Are you self-aware and can adjust based on your discernment and the dynamic around you? Self-awareness and adaptability are the key words here.

We’ve all been on teams where someone is not self-aware and doesn’t understand the people or environment dynamic around them. They say things or do things that are disruptive and adversely impact the team dynamic you’re trying to build. People around them feel unvalued.

Find and add people to your team who are smart.

These three attributes are vital in teammates if you strive to build a functional, high-performing team.

The encouraging reality about all this is these three attributes can be developed and coached in all of us. We can grow as we more self-aware and improve our teams as we improve ourselves in these areas. It’s starts with small decisions to values these attributes and commit to putting people around you who are committed to these as well.

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