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Patrick Lencioni's "The Ideal Team Player" -- Strategic Planning at MinistryCPA

Patrick Lencioni (Len-chō’-nē), author of The Ideal Team Player, and two other books we’ve used at MinistryCPA—The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team—purports to have identified the three essential virtues of the ideal team player. He says that he found that the ideal team player is 1) hungry, 2) smart, and 3) humble.

The Bible prophet Micah confronted his rebellious listeners. He taught them the virtues that would truly bring pleasure to God (chapter 6, verse 8): “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to 1) do justly, and to 2) love mercy, and to 3) walk humbly with thy God?” Carefully studied, these characteristics are identical—they are not Lencioni’s sole 21st Century discovery.

Nevertheless, Lencioni does offer much that is helpful in practical application to recruit and select ideal team players and to assist current team members with flaws (and we all have them) so that we might overcome them.

Micah instructs the team player who wants to grow into an ideal contributor to “do justly”—to take action and to do so with energy and fidelity on behalf of those who entrust him or her to contribute to the team. Lencioni describes this person as hungry. He says that these people are “self-motivated and diligent. [They exhibit] a manageable and sustainable commitment to doing a job well and going above and beyond when it is truly required” (p. 159).

Micah continued: The God-pleaser must “love mercy.” His compassion (Amplified Bible) truly helps others, even if it means risking frank, but tactful, confrontation. Lencioni calls these people smart—people smart. They demonstrate a common sense about people, by “asking good questions, listening to what others are saying, and staying engaged in conversations intently. [They have] good judgment [regarding] the impact of their words and actions. They don’t say and do things—or fail to say and do things—without knowing the likely response of their colleagues” (p. 160).

Finally, Micah challenges the individual who would bring pleasure to God to walk humbly. As far as team dynamics go, Lencioni says that ideal team players “share credit, emphasize team over self, and define success collectively rather than individually” (p. 157). Lencioni says that blatantly arrogant people are easy to spot. But he believes that humility can show up in a much less disruptive way that is nonetheless harmful to team success. These people “lack self-confidence [and] tend to discount their own talents and contributions” (p. 158). Lencioni quotes C.S. Lewis: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Lencioni offers a self-assessment device that can help an organization’s team members identify their own strengths and weaknesses as team players and those of current and prospective colleagues. MinistryCPA employs a modified version of his device to establish baselines and track improvement related to our Core Values. Borrowing from Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions definition of a healthy organization, MinistryCPA people understand that...

A healthy organization is led by people who 1) trust one another enough to be vulnerable, 2) engage in productive conflict, 3) commit to a course of action, 4) hold one another accountable to perform and behave consistent with the organization’s best interests at heart, and 5) focus on achieving the organization’s goals.


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