Identifying the ideal team player

The best team players have three virtues: humility, hunger, and smarts.

According to Patrick Lencioni of management consulting firm The Table Group, these traits are sometimes inherent in personality, but more commonly they show themselves through how a person reacts to life, work, and personal development over time.

Humility allows a person to drop their ego and put a team ahead of themselves. Humble people recognize the contributions of others and don’t step on others to get to the top. If a team member lacks this characteristic, they will not be able to build trust and work through conflict over time.

Hungry people are always trying to learn more, improve themselves, and achieve more responsibility and recognition. This drive will propel them to work with a high level of self-motivation and see that projects are completed quickly and correctly. Their ambition will keep them moving upward towards the next opportunity. A person that isn’t hungry will have a hard time getting the desired results and will likely only perform at the bare minimum required.

Smart team players understand how to talk to other people. Listening, asking the right questions, and engaging the team in conflict resolutions are all qualities that a smart person will bring to the table. People without this emotional intelligence will tend to create interpersonal problems that require constant mediation from others.

Lencioni suggests that these virtues should permeate interviews, performance reviews, and even personal introspection to help identify the best way to hire, retain, and coach employees. Deficiency in even one of these areas can cause problems for business, and it can take time to correct a culture problem caused by weak team players.