Ideal Team Player Book Review

 In Culture, Individual Leadership, Organizational Development, Team Development


We all want to work in “jackass free environments.”

So, why do many of us struggle with attention hogs, selfish actions, and manipulation in the workplace?

Ideal Team Player

In “The Ideal Team Player,” Patrick Lencioni explains why these behaviors persist and provides a formula for recognizing and cultivating positive individual behaviors. Introduced through a fable, Jeff Shanley is on a quest to turn around the culture of a family business. In the story, Jeff changes industries and cities to continue the work of his uncle. While the business earned community respect for their output, Jeff found that a culture of toxic teamwork plagued the culture and threatened the success of large projects.

Soon, Jeff learns employees who are effective on teams practice three core virtues simultaneously: humility, hunger, and smarts.

  • Humble people understand and appreciate their skills and those of others. Humble people are quick to recognize other’s contributions and slow to seek the spotlight for themselves.
  • Hungry people are eager to find new ways to contribute to their team. They balance their hunger for more at work with rest and interest outside of the workplace.
  • Smart people understand the emotions of others and use this understanding to build healthy, long-term relationships. Smart people are often “politically savvy” and use this skill to support team and organizational success.


When these qualities work in unison, teammates can put aside their egos, seek to understand their coworkers and contribute energy towards team efforts with pride and satisfaction. These qualities, when practiced, result in low team resentment and high morale.

The Individual and Team Effectiveness

Patrick continues by explaining that people can be technical experts, but not be humble, hungry, or smart, as it relates to their team. And, vehemently advises against hiring just for technical expertise and neglecting a potential employee’s teamwork abilities. While hiring solely on technical expertise is typical, the book cites this hiring practice are the prime reason that we end up working in unhealthy environments with people who block the spotlight, hoard resources, and use political savvy to promote their mission.

Successful teamwork requires team trust, commitment, context, and other critical shared behaviors. However, it is crucial not to neglect the independent work we all must do to engage in healthy and productive teamwork.

This individual work centers on the cultivation of humility, hunger, and smarts.

Please read the full book, The Ideal Team Player, by Patrick Lencioni to read about Jeff’s journey to team success. You will also find an assessment in the back of the book that will help you evaluate your use of each of the qualities.

Pick up a copy today!


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