Does Your Leadership Team Have The 3 Essential Virtues?


Are you a smart and healthy organization?

By Larry Kendall, author of Ninja Selling and chairman of The Group, Inc. 

At the 2015 Real Trends Gathering of Eagles Conference, author and consultant Patrick Lencioni gave a riveting presentation on the importance of our leadership teams being healthy as well as smart.

Smart teams have a great strategy, marketing, finance and technology. Healthy teams have minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity and low turnover. His observation was that most companies are smart but fewer are healthy. Being healthy is “The Advantage,” the title of one of his recent books.

Lencioni’s latest book is “The Ideal Team Player.” It is another brilliant work that gives us even more clarity on building great teams in both leadership and sales. Patrick’s research shows that great (smart and healthy) teams have three essential virtues—team members are humble; hungry and smart.

1.  Humble. Great team players lack excessive ego or concerns about status. Ego destroys organizations. It is no great surprise, then, that humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.

Being humble does not mean a lack of self-confidence. Truly humble people do not see themselves as greater than they are, but neither do they discount their talents and contributions. C.S. Lewis addressed this misunderstanding about humility when he said, “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

2.  Hungry. Hungry people 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. Hunger in this context is the healthy kind—a manageable and sustainable commitment to doing a job well and going above and beyond when it is truly required.

3.  Smart. Smart is not about intellectual capacity; it’s about people smarts. In the context of a team, smart simply refers to people’s common sense about people—their ability to be interpersonally appropriate and aware. Smart people tend to know what is happening in a group situation and how to deal with others in the most effective way.

These three virtues seem somewhat obvious.  What makes humble, hungry and smart 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.

What do we do if a team member is missing one or more of the three essential virtues? Can these virtues be developed? Lencioni provides us with a brilliant model for develop-ing our team members in these three essential virtues as well as for interviewing and hiring based upon them.

Are you serious about building a great team?  “The Ideal Team Player” will help take you there.


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This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of the REAL Trends Newsletter and is reprinted with permission of REAL Trends Inc. Copyright 2016

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