Patrick Lencioni is the author of ten business books that have sold nearly five million copies, including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The Wall Street Journal called him “one of the most sought-after business speakers in America.” He consults on topics related to leadership and organizational health. Lencioni’s more recent book, The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues, explores the three essential virtues that accelerate teamwork and predict team success.

The three essential virtues that Patrick discusses in this book are Humble, Hungry and Smart. Here is a brief description of each virtue.

Humble – Ideal team players are humble. They lack excessive ego or concerns about status. Humble people are quick to point out the contributions of others and are slow to seek attention for themselves. They share credit, emphasize team over self and define success collectively rather than individually.

Hungry – Ideal team players are hungry. They 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.

Smart – Ideal team players are smart. They have common sense about people. Smart people tend to know what is happening in a group situation and how to deal with others in the most effective way. They have good judgment and intuition around the subtleties of group dynamics and the impact of their words and actions.

Humble, Hungry and Smart – The Three Virtues Combined

What makes the attributes humble, hungry and smart so powerful and unique is not the individual attributes themselves, but rather the required combination of all three. If even one is missing in a team member, teamwork becomes significantly more difficult and sometimes not possible.

These insights from Patrick Lencioni are great tools to help develop people. They are simple attributes you can use to build each member of your team into a better team player.

  • Do you know what virtues your team members have or are lacking?
  • What do you need to work on with each of them?
  • Are you the ideal team player?
  • Are you courageous enough to recognize virtues you need to improve?

Once you have identified a virtue for someone to work on and you have that conversation, your job is not finished. People will not change behaviors after a single conversation. It must be a series of consistent discussions reminding them and providing support to help facilitate the change.

You must have the courage to constantly remind people. Remember – It is not about YOU!

Develop these traits in your own career

The best leaders lead from the front – they lead by example. To foster the development of team players, be a team player. In this and all other aspects of upping your leadership potential game, engage an experienced leadership coach.