The Ideal Team Player

Patrick Lencioni latest book, a business fable, The Ideal Team Player, is a perfect companion to his now famous The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

In Five Dysfunctions Lencioni identifies what happens when a team has low trust among them. He does this with his now well known Dysfunction Pyramid.  I described the Dysfunction Pyramid in this earlier post.

In the Ideal Team Player he identifies how to avoid the Dysfunctions by consciously hiring great team players. He identifies three traits which he believes accomplish the goal,- humble, hungry and smart. These form the three pillars on top of which vulnerability based trust can be built quickly and easily. They could be part of your core values, but I see them more as being thought of as permission-to-play values or traits, given that Core Values are largely unique to companies and these traits ideally would be used in all companies.

Read the book to find out how these traits get you great team players. You can order it here. If you aren’t a book reader, here is a short summary. Let me leave you with some observations about the three traits,-

  • Humble – We all love people who are not self promoters, who are willing to do the least important tasks if that is what it takes for the team to succeed, and who always give credit first to others.
  • Hungry – Who wouldn’t want a co-worker who always volunteers for more, who helps out if someone else is falling behind? Some one who always is improving their skills and knowledge. Someone who is hungry to be better.
  • Smart – I like the clarification brought out in the fable – by smart Lencioni means people smart. Human beings with people smarts instinctively recognize that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to working with different people. Styles are different. Different people react differently under pressure. Recognizing the different needs people have is important for a team to run smoothly.

How do you test for these traits when interviewing? Lencioni addresses this concern by adding a workbook-like section at the end of the fable, where he provides interview questions to help probe for these traits. He also explains why all three traits are important. How missing any one of them can lead to major issues.


As a member of the EOS Worldwide Leadership Team for two and a half years now and a seven and a half year member of the EOS Worldwide Professional EOS Implementer Community I am proud that I do see parallels to these traits in the EOS Worldwide Values, as follows:

  • Humble: This clearly equates to the EOS Worldwide value of being Humbly Confident.
  • Hungry: This is very much equivalent to the EOS Worldwide value of believing you must Grow or Die.
  • Smart: People smarts is like a combination of the EOS Worldwide values of Help First and Do The Right Thing, although I’ll let my EOS colleagues decide if I am reaching here.
Book Cover by Lencioni and Amazon.

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