Jan 182018

Book Short – Another Must-Read by Lencioni

Book Short – Another Must-Read by Lencioni

The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues (hardcover,kindle is Patrick Lencioni’s latest and greatest.  It’s not my favorite of his, which is still The Advantage (post,buy ), but it’s pretty good and well worth a read.  It builds on his model for accountability in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (post,buy)and brings it back to “how can you spot or develop and a good team player?”

The central thesis of the book is that great team players have three attributes – hungry, humble, and people-smart.  While I can’t disagree with those three things, as with all consultants’ frameworks, I sound two cautionary notes:  (1) they aren’t the absolute truth, just a truth, and (2) different organizations and different cultures sometimes thrive with different recipes.  That said, certainly for my company, this framework rings true, if not the only truth.

Some great nuggets from the book:

-The basketball coach who says he loves kids who want to come to practice and work as hard as they can at practice to avoid losing
-The concept of Addition by Addition and Addition by Subtraction in the same book – both are real and true.  The notion that three people can get more done than four if the fourth is a problem is VERY REAL
-When you’re desperate for people, you do stupid things – you bring people on who can get the job done but shouldn’t be in your environment.  I don’t know a single CEO who hasn’t made this mistake, even knowing sometimes that they’re in the process of making it

The framing of the “edge” people – people who have two of the three virtues, but not the third, is quite good:

-Hungry and Humble but not People-Smart – The Accidental Mess Maker
-Humble and People-Smart, but not Hungry – The Lovable Slacker
-Hungry and People-Smart, but not Humble – The Skillful Politician

In my experience, and Lencioni may say this in the book, too (I can’t remember and can’t find it), none of these is great…but the last one is by far the most problematic for a culture that values teamwork and collaboration.

Anyway, I realize this is a long summary for a short book, but it’s worth buying and reading and having on your (real or virtual) shelf.  In addition to the story, there are some REALLY GOOD interview guides/questions and team surveys in the back of the book.