What’s it about?

We’ve all worked with people who lack a certain something that would make them such a better teammate. We have also (hopefully) all worked with people that just amaze us. This book aims to put those scenarios into measurable qualities.

The first part of the book is an introduction to the problem of inconsistent performance across employees. Through a cast of characters and an easy-to-follow story, Lencioni first tells the tale of a company looking to expand its business, but is finding its current workforce has some problems. After asking a lot of questions and interviewing some employees, they decide they need to specifically tackle hiring the right people. They decide upon three attributes to hire on: humble, hungry, and smart. Here, smart refers to people smarts (like emotional intelligence). A timeline of its results are given (almost all positive, of course) and it concludes with a happy ending.

In the second part, we are introduced to each quality in more depth, along with what an employee looks like when they have only one or two of the three qualities. Then the author details what can be done in the reader’s organization to implement these virtues (his word) into their workforce. It covers developing and implementing a hiring process and culture, as well as how to develop employees who lack any of the qualities.

Why should anyone read it?

If your company is doing a great job with your hiring and find your teams are doing well together, you could use this book to either look at an alternative perspective, or check the foundations of your processes and values against that of the book. It’s not to say that it will absolutely help you, but it never hurts to see how others are making the mix work.

For those who struggle with employing the right people all the time, well, this book won’t solve that problem. But it will help you hire more of the right people and develop the ones that need it. There is one tool of this book that really speaks to building the right culture on top of these virtues. If you develop these virtues within your organization and commit to making it stick with each and every employee, you make it a miserable place for those with no desire to improve. These people “see themselves out” because they feel the pressure every day to improve on their deficits. When you get people who are humble, hungry, and smart, you break with previous trends of just letting people slip through the cracks. More people with these virtues make it easier to hold every person accountable to them, so that when Jack or Jill slip, their teammates know that both Jack and Jill want to know in order to improve.

Another aspect of this book is for personal improvement. Whether you are looking for a new job or want to improve your position at an existing one, you can work on these qualities to explicitly develop yourself as “the ideal team player”. You put yourself in a position that shows your organization’s leaders what you’re committed to and how you achieve it.

Select Quotations

“Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.”

“Hungry people…are constantly thinking about the next step and the next opportunity. And they loathe the idea that they might be perceived as slackers.”

“Smart people tend to know what is happening in a group situation and how to deal with others in the most effective way.”

“When team members are adequately strong in each of these areas – when they possess significant humility, hunger, and people smarts – they enable teamwork by making it relatively easy for members to overcome the five dysfunctions of a team.”

“Ideal team players work with a sense of energy, passion, and personal responsibility, taking on whatever they possibly can for the good of the team.”

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