Renowned business author Patrick Lencioni was recently in the county speaking about corporate culture. Lencioni has written a number of books, the most popular of which is probably The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, but one of his newer books, The Ideal Team Player, speaks to the soft skills that are necessary, and often overlooked, in the hiring process.
Frequently a manager will make a hire based on the work experience and talent of an individual, and while those are important, Lencioni argues that three virtues are necessary for an employee to succeed in the workplace and make the team better. Those virtues are humility, hunger, and emotional intelligence.
Humble – Lencioni argues that any team member that is self-centered and ego-driven will rarely have the success of the team as his or her main motivation and cares little about status. A humble employee will have no difficulty in praising teammates, will readily share credit and can admit mistakes. A lack of humility hurts trust, the absence of which is the first dysfunction of a team. One of the more compelling parts of the book is when the characters tussle with a decision to hire an expert in their field with whom they have questions about his humility.
Hungry – Employees who have little personal motivation to excel at their job create difficulty in a team, especially on a team where others do have hunger. Hungry employees will always be striving to improve their skills, knowledge and ability and how this improvement can help the team and the company. They will look to contribute outside their area of responsibility when necessary and will be willing to take on more difficult tasks.
Smart – When Lencioni refers to an ideal employee being “smart” he is thinking of emotional intelligence, not necessarily book smarts. Emotionally intelligent employees are good listeners and have higher levels of self-awareness in regards to their speech and actions. A smart team member will also adjust his or her behavior accordingly to fit a particular situation.
One of the nice things about Lencioni’s group is that they provide free resources to help organizations put these ideas into practice. One of these resources is a listing of sample interview questions to get to a candidate to discuss how humble, hungry and smart they are. The back of the book, as well as the online resource toolkit, includes a self-assessment quiz for readers to see where they can improve in their quest to be the best team player possible.
I found The Ideal Team Player to be a very worthwhile read that only takes a couple of hours to get through. The book discusses how to migrate to a culture of humble, hungry and smart and how to help coach employees to reach their highest potential in the three areas. While few potential or current employees are going to be excellent in all three areas, they must not be lacking in any one area without risking the success of the team in which they work.
By Dan Massey, CPA, Principal