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What makes the Ideal Team Player?

As a leader I often researched and pondered what made a high functioning team. I read the books "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" and "Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni. I recently heard Mr. Lencioni speak at a local Technology Summit. His presentation revolved around his newer book "The Ideal Team Player." I have often found myself fascinated with high functioning teams and how they became such.

Jocko Willink gave a Ted Talk on "Extreme Ownership," which he gives a verbal depiction of a friendly fire incident in Ramadi, Iraq. He was a Navy Seal in charge of a Seal element in which some injuries and a death occurred between friendly forces. He knew as the commander in charge of the unit he must take responsibility. The fascinating thing about the incident was that his entire team also took responsibility. So what makes a team take responsibility when other teams would pass blame onto their leader or another team member? A team needs to have the same attitude and belief system on extreme ownership. If a team is a true team then they accept responsibility as a team.

Pat Lencioni talks about the three virtues of team players. Humble, Hungry, and Smart. Great team players lack excessive ego, they contribute, and they share credit. Hungry people are always looking for more. They don't have to be pushed by a supervisor and are searching for the next great opportunity. Smart does not imply education but refers more to common sense and emotional intelligence. They have good judgement and intuition. Team players must have all three of these virtues.

So where do we find these team players? Clearly you want to hire high performance team members. Perhaps you need to improve the interview process. Maybe team members need to be involved in the process since they are part of the team. Don't ignore or second guess your hunches, after all it's your team. This also means you may need to assess your current team members from time to time.

What I've came to realize is that high performance teams have a deep sense of purpose and commitment towards the goals of the team. The team is generally more ambitious than other teams. Mutual accountability and a clear understanding of responsibilities are factors. There's a diverse range of expertise among the team. The variety of expertise should be utilized and exploited. Lastly, Interdependence and trust among the team is absolutely necessary.

What do you think makes a high performing team? Let me know.

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