Instaread Summary of The Ideal Team Player How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick Lencioni
Three out of five stars
Given the tremendous complexity of human behavior and interactions in professional environments, any reduction to a small set of characteristics is a dubious action. Lencioni reduces the number of key traits of an ideal (not merely good) team player own to three and in a page out of his admitted religious faith, calls them virtues. The three “essential” traits are being humble, smart and hungry.
There is no question that being able to work within groups is a key aspect of organizational success. However, and this is mentioned in the summary, these traits can also be detrimental if not possessed in the proper dosage. Key takeaway three is, “Ideal team players have each of the three virtues in roughly equal measure.” In other words, the ideal person not only has these three traits, but all balanced in the proper way.
Yet, this is somewhat contradicted by key takeaway four, “Of the three virtues, humility is the most important.” It reminds me of the Orwellian statement, “Some are more equal than others.” If all three should be in equal measure, then how is it possible that one is more important than the other? The answer to this question is found in the text of the takeaway, where there is a extended reference to religion.
Key takeaway six deals with misplaced hunger, “Hunger is detrimental to the team when it is exclusively self-interested or when taken to an extreme.” Key take away seven deals with misplaced intelligence, “Smart people don’t always use their social intelligence for the benefit of the group.” Establishing the further qualification that the three virtues also have to appear in the proper form.
People do not fit into molds that we attempt to make for them, they are what they are. Professional interactions are very complex and success is often achieved in ways that were unexpected in the sense that a team that appears to be made from disparate individuals gells and achieves great things. Lencioni tries to simplify this down to a few key points and fails, creating a book that uses religion to argue for ways people should be hired and developed.
The author of the summary does little, if any, questioning of the thesis put forward by Lencioni, despite there being a lot of room to do so.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.