Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

How you become the ideal team player

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Teamwork is critical for the true success of everything we do. Think about it, every venture we undertake requires help from someone; that’s the way it’s supposed to go.

If we rely on others for our success, others rely on us for theirs. How can we help others most effectively? What do we need to become great team players?

Ideal Team Player

Ideal Team PlayerThe idea of making teamwork a reality in your organization is the thesis and purpose of the book THE IDEAL TEAM PLAYER: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues. Author Patrick Lencioni takes you on a journey—by means of a compelling business fable—of a business leader who wants to, and ultimately does, build a team of ideal team players.

Ideal team players are not necessarily born that way, but through life experiences, work history or a true commitment to personal development, they acquire three underlying virtues that enable them to be ideal team players: they are humble, hungry and smart. Following the story, Lencioni describes the ideal team player model, what it means, where it comes from and how it can be put into practical use.

  • Humility: Great team players lack excessive ego, they don’t care about status. They are quick to point out the accomplishments of others and do not seek attention for themselves. They are secure in their position, and confident in their ability to succeed, but it’s not about them. Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.
  • Hungry: Hungry people are always looking for more. More things to do, more responsibility, more ways they can help. Hungry people do not need to be pushed to do more because they are self-motivated and diligent.
  • Smart: This virtue is not about intellectual capacity, but instead it’s about common sense with people – people smarts. Smart people know how to deal with others in the most effective way. They ask good questions, listen to what others are saying and engage in effective conversations.

All three of these attributes are important on their own. The power, however, comes in the combination of all three. To truly become an ideal team player, you must possess all three at the same time.

To lead an effective team, you need to find people who are ideal team players. If you have a team where some members are not yet hitting the ideal, fortunately there’s hope. Lencioni provides details about how to develop ideal team players. He helps you identify the attributes in others, one at a time, in pairs, and all three. He then teaches you how to develop all three.

To become a great leader, you need a great team. This book provides powerful tools to help you build that team.

Questions: How well does your organization promote teamwork? Are you an ideal team player? Please leave a comment in the space below.


The Product Management Perspective: The key to building successful products is not necessarily building the ideal team—most of the people you rely on don’t report to you—but instead to inspire the team in the right ways. As you become the ideal team player, the results will show in the products you manage through the teams you inspire.

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