The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni

You either love or hate Lencioni. I love him. But if you haven't read him, you need to. In his typical style, Lencioni tells a leadership fable over the first 2/3rds of this thin book and then lays out those principles in a more typical style over the last third of The Ideal Team Player. I really appreciate his style. I put down my pen and just absorb the fable. For me, I find that I retain his concepts for much longer because of his style. He also never tries to do too much. In fact, he admits himself that this book is basic and almost painfully intuitive. Lencioni is not going to grip you with powerful sociological and psychological research. But he is always memorable and accessible.

And his insights in this book, even if not groundbreaking, are critically important. 

Thriving teams share team members with three essential virtues: humble, hungry, and smart. Lencioni doesn't overstate his case when he says: "The ramifications of all this are undeniable. Leaders who can identify, hire, and cultivate employees who are humble, hungry, and smart will have a serious advantage over those who cannot. They'll be able to build stronger teams much more quickly and with much less difficulty, and they'll significantly reduce the painful and tangible costs associated with politics, turnover, and morale problems. And employees who can embody these virtues will make themselves more valuable and marketable to any organization that values teamwork."

What does does Lencioni mean by humble, hungry, and smart? 

"Humility is the single greatest and most indispensible attribute of being a team player." And it is also the hardest to measure. He quotes CS Lewis's memorable line : "Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less." 

Perhaps the most typically sought-after virtue of the three: "Hungry people are always looking for more. More things to do. More to learn. More responsibility to take on. Hungry people almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent. They are constantly thinking about the next step and the next opportunity." 

"Of the three virtues, this one needs the most clarification because it is not what it might seem; it is not about intellectual capacity. In the context of a team, smart simply refers to a person's common sense about people." How well can you read a room and read a person? While we typically go after professional competency, more important is having a team filled with members with people-competency. 

I highly recommend Lencioni's book... and it won't take you more than a few hours to get through.