Team player is one of the oldest concepts in management. Always one of the skills indicated in any job description. Still, its importance is understated and always taken for a given. Talent is nowadays much more trendy, despite having far less impact.
Being a team player is the foundation of a successful team. Before developing a high-performing team, you need to have these basics right. If you like sports, you’ve probably noticed that groups of extra-talented individuals are less good than teams of good players with a good manager. Why? Because there’s no “I” in “Team” or “We before Me”.
Great teams are essential for success in any organisation. To have great teams, you need great team players. In his book The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognise and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues, Patrick Lencioni explains how to identify and cultivate the three essential virtues of the ideal team player, which are helpful to anyone who’s part of a team or is leading a team. This straightforward yet effective framework will benefit anybody attempting to build a culture of teamwork, recruit actual team players, or become better at being a team player. This model works not only for the corporate world but also for sports and family.
Are you a team player?
Ask you the following questions for you and for members of your team?
- We praise or congratulate without reservation.
- We freely admit our errors.
- For the sake of the team, we are ready to perform lower-level tasks.
- We openly acknowledge our shortcomings.
- We take personal ownership of the team’s performance in its entirety.
- Whenever required, we are ready to take on difficult or arduous duties.
- We search for chances to help outside of our sphere of influence.
- During meetings and talks, we often have an understanding of how others are feeling.
- We show interest in the well-being of our team members.
- We are conscious of our actions and words’ effects on other team members.
If you have answered Yes to all the questions above, congratulations! You and your teammates are ideal team players! If not, the post below will give you meaningful insights.
The Ideal Team Player model or how to be a good team player
An ideal team player at work can make the team better than the sum of its parts. By looking on the internet, you can find a lot of different soft skills and qualities expected to be a great team player, such as flexibility, active listening, problem-solving, effective communication, positive attitude (no negativity allowed), taking responsibility, following through on commitments, comfortable with collaboration, willingness to accept feedback … if all these are important, be an ideal team player is really up to three virtues: be humble, be passionate and be tactful.
These traits are acquired and maintained by life experiences and individual decisions made at home and at work rather than being fixed qualities ingrained in a person’s DNA.
Great team players don’t have overinflated egos or status concerns. They are quick to recognise the merits of others’ achievements while taking the time to draw attention to their own. They distribute credit, prioritise the team above the individual, and define success as a group rather than an individual. Two main categories of people lack humility, and it’s crucial to recognise them since they have different personalities and other effects on teams.
- The obviously arrogant individuals who make everything about them are the most evident type. They are simple to spot because they want to speak and draw attention to themselves. This is the traditional ego-driven kind, which undermines collaboration by encouraging antagonism, conflict, and politics.
- The next type is less risky, yet comprehending is still essential. Despite their lack of confidence, these people remain kind and pleasant around others. Others incorrectly perceive them as modest because of their propensity to undervalue their abilities and accomplishments. This, however, is not humility. Their lack of self-awareness is also a lack of humility, even if they are undoubtedly not arrogant.
Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.Clive Lewis
Insecurity is a characteristic shared by each of these categories. Some insecure people exude overconfidence, while others downplay their own abilities. True modest people do not underestimate their abilities or think less of themselves than they actually are.
I prefer to use the word passion to hunger used in the book. People passionate about something constantly seek new challenges, new things to learn, and new responsibilities. Because they are diligent and self-motivated, people who are passionate about their profession rarely need to be pushed by a manager to work harder.
Hungry (Passionate) people will arrive earlier, stay later, pitch in outside their areas of responsibility, and look for ways to improve their performance, all without being asked.Patrick Lencioni
Additionally, they detest the notion of being mistaken as slackers. Passionate people are more likely to have a Growth Mindset. Some others call it Grit. For more details, watch
It is entirely related to one’s capacity for acceptable and conscious interpersonal behaviour. Tactful people typically understand what is going on in a group setting and how to interact with others most successfully. They remain attentive to conversations and listen to what others have to say.
Though it wouldn’t be a bad comparison, some people would refer to this as emotional intelligence, although tact is probably a little simpler than that. Simply said, tactful individuals are aware of the complexities of group dynamics and the effects of their words and deeds.
Remember that being tactful doesn’t always indicate having good intentions. People with tact might utilise their skills for good or bad.
When to use the Ideal Team Player Model
On top of values, you want to ensure that you are hiring humble, passionate, and tactful people. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is to tell them that these are absolute requirements for the position proposed.
After conducting the interview, debriefing, and follow-up interviews, you are reasonably sure the interviewee possesses the three virtues. However, you’re hesitant. Before making an offer, reassure the candidate that you are passionately committed to these principles and that, should they manage to get through the interview process, it would be awful to work there if they did not share that conviction.
Inform applicants repeatedly that they will be criticised for their actions, non in line with a team player or model, and will soon hate going to work. Also, reassure them that the job will be excellent if they meet humility, passion, and tactfulness requirements. While many individuals will apply for jobs even if they don’t match the company’s declared values, only some will if they understand that they would be held accountable daily for actions against these core values.
- Humble: Ask the candidate to list their career’s most outstanding achievements, and note if they use the pronoun “we” more often than “I”; the latter shows humility;
- Passionate: Inquire about the applicant’s most challenging project to date. He or she is passionate if it appears they liked this encounter rather than just tolerating it.
- Tactful. Inquire about the applicant’s personality. He/she is introspective and emotionally intelligent if he/she knows his/her talents and flaws.
Team Player Assessment and Development
The assessment or evaluation of present personnel is another crucial application of the ideal team player model. In the end, this evaluation had three results:
- confirming if the employee is the perfect team member,
- assisting the person in becoming one, or
- deciding to move the person out.
This is not to say that someone in the middle will always be ideal in all of these traits or even in any of them. Nobody is perfect. The good news is that humility, passion, and tact can all be learned and adopted by those with the will to do so.
What happens if you can’t tell whether a worker has the motivation or capacity to grow? Go cautiously and continue working with the individual. Why? It is tragic when an employee leaves for the wrong reasons. Not only does it put that individual in an unnecessarily difficult situation, but it also deprives the team of a potential asset.
The assessment should be done by the manager and also by the employee (Self-Assessment).
Next Steps – High-Performance Team
Team members may facilitate teamwork by making it very simple for members to get over the five dysfunctions of a team when they are sufficiently strong in each of these areas—when they have considerable amounts of humility, passion, and tact. They’ll also be more likely to engage in constructive but uncomfortable disagreements with team members. They will commit to decisions even if they don’t initially agree, hold their peers accountable when they notice performance gaps that can be closed, and prioritise the team’s needs over their own. These traits will make them more likely to be vulnerable and develop trust. The group is transforming into a high-performance team.
Although it has never been simple, teamwork has grown significantly more difficult recently as teams become more global, virtual, and project-driven. It can make all the difference to analyse your current and new employees’ readiness for teamwork. Do not forget to start with you. David Gousset.