Magazine article HRMagazine

A Winning Team

Magazine article HRMagazine

A Winning Team

Article excerpt

The best team players are humble, hungry and smart.

What exactly makes a good team player? That's the question bestselling author Patrick Lencioni explores in his newest book, The Ideal Team Player (Jossey-Bass, 2016). Lencioni, founder of The Table Group, a Lafayette, Calif.-based consulting company, believes that good group members possess three essential virtues, and the best ones recognize and cultivate those traits in themselves and others.

Lencioni is the author of 11 books on teamwork, meetings and employee engagement that have sold more than 5 million copies and have been translated into 30 languages. He will be a keynote speaker at the Society for Human Resource Management's 2017 Annual Conference 8c Exposition taking place June 18-21 in New Orleans, where he'll share his passion for organizations and teams.

What are the three essential virtues of a good team player?

They're humble, hungry and smart.

If you're humble, have a relatively small ego and are interested in others more than yourself, it will be much easier for you to become part of a team. When you're hungry, you will never have to be asked to do more. Instead, you will constantly be asking, "What else can I do to contribute?" And if you're smart, you'll have both common sense and emotional intelligence.

That combination is powerful. People with those attributes, regardless of their skill levels, will perform well. But problems can arise if any one of them is missing.

How can a manager cultivate those qualities in team members?

Ask the members of your group to rank themselves on the three virtues on a scale of 1 to 3. They'll acknowledge their shortcomings once they know those traits are expected of them. Then you can talk about how to help them. For instance, if I'm a minimalist and do only what is required, I can check with my co-workers before I leave work to see if I can help them with anything. Everyone can improve in these areas with the right coaching.

What is the biggest threat to an effective team?

A lack of trust. If people can't trust each other, they'll be unwilling to admit when they make a mistake or need help. This goes back to the importance of having humility. Teams that lack trust are incapable of debating key issues openly, and the consequence will be inferior results.

What causes workers to be disengaged?

Anonymity, irrelevance and a lack of meaningful performance measures. Those are job killers.

What can managers do to guard against anonymity?

Show a genuine interest in your employees and what they bring to the table. Everyone wants to feel understood and appreciated. You can't love your job if your supervisor is disinterested in you as a human being. …

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