Author Patrick Lencioni is known for telling leadership fables, which I love because they’re such a thought-provoking way of sharing insights, tips and lessons learned. I recently read his book, “The Ideal Team Player,” which tells the fictitious story of Jeff Shanley, a leader trying to save his uncle’s company by restoring a culture of teamwork. While Lencioni’s best seller, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” explored building effective teams, his more recent book centers on the individual and how “Jeff” realizes his most successful employees are:

  • Humble: Open and willing to listen to the ideas of others.
  • Hungry: Always looking to do better in their jobs.
  • Smart: Not simply intelligent but having common sense about people.

Humility, hunger, people smarts

One of my key takeaways from “The Ideal Team Player” is to incorporate several of Lencioni’s interview questions to better gauge a job candidate’s humility, hunger and people smarts. For humility, Lencioni recommends asking, “What was the most embarrassing moment in your career? Or the biggest failure?” He explains that humble people “generally aren’t afraid of telling unflattering stories” and “they’re comfortable being imperfect.” Another question I liked: “Tell me about someone who is better than you in an area that really matters to you?“ His premise: “Humble people are comfortable with this. Ego-driven people often are not.”

When it comes to evaluating people smarts, Lencioni acknowledges that is probably the most challenging but offers several lines of inquiry, including these two questions that resonate with me:

  • “What kind of people annoy you the most, and how do you deal with them?”
  • “Can you give me an example of how you’ve demonstrated empathy to a teammate?”

Lessons learned

The book also reinforced two of my leadership beliefs:

  • People typically want to do a good job — at least most days!
  • If employees receive support, feedback and coaching, they can accomplish so much more.

I learned these lessons years ago when collaborating with a woman who appeared apathetic. After a frank and honest conversation, this colleague expressed shock and was completely unaware of how people perceived her. Fortunately, she took my input to heart, developed greater people skills, and grew personally and professionally.

Right people, right fit

After reading “The Ideal Team Player” and recognizing today’s extremely tight labor market, my biggest epiphany is that Resigility and all employers must avoid merely filling jobs and fixating on skill sets. Instead, our focus should be on finding the right people and ensuring the right fit for the job, organization and culture.

Karen Marlo

President, Resigility