The Ideal Team Player
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The Ideal Team Player

How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues

Patrick M. Lencioni

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eBook - ePub

The Ideal Team Player

How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues

Patrick M. Lencioni

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About This Book

In his classic book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni laid out a groundbreaking approach for tackling the perilous group behaviors that destroy teamwork. Here he turns his focus to the individual, revealing the three indispensable virtues of an ideal team player.

In The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni tells the story of Jeff Shanley, a leader desperate to save his uncle's company by restoring its cultural commitment to teamwork. Jeff must crack the code on the virtues that real team players possess, and then build a culture of hiring and development around those virtues.

Beyond the fable, Lencioni presents a practical framework and actionable tools for identifying, hiring, and developing ideal team players. Whether you're a leader trying to create a culture around teamwork, a staffing professional looking to hire real team players, or a team player wanting to improve yourself, this book will prove to be as useful as it is compelling.

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The Fable

Part One

The Situation


After twenty years, Jeff Shanley had experienced more than his fair share of the Silicon Valley. The hours. The traffic. The pretentiousness. It was time to make a change.
To be fair, it wasn't really the work that Jeff had grown tired of. In fact, he had enjoyed an interesting and successful career. After a few jobs in high-tech marketing, at age thirty-five he cofounded a technology start-up. Two years later, he was fortunate enough to get demoted when the board of directors hired what they called a grown-up CEO. During the next four years, that CEO, Kathryn Petersen, taught Jeff more about leadership, teamwork, and business than he could have learned in a decade of business school.
When Kathryn retired, Jeff left the company and spent the next few years working at a small consulting firm in Half Moon Bay, over the hills from the Silicon Valley. Jeff thrived there, and was on the verge of becoming a partner. But during that time, he and his wife began to grow tired of trying to keep up with the Joneses, which happened to be the name of the family that lived in the over-priced bungalow next door.
Jeff was definitely ready for a change. Where he would go and what he would do next was a mystery to him. He certainly didn't expect the answer to come via a phone call from his uncle Bob.


Robert Shanley had been the most prominent and diversified building contractor in the Napa Valley for three decades. Whether it was a winery, a school, or a shopping center, if it was being built in Napa, there was a decent chance that Valley Builders was involved in some significant way.
Unfortunately for Bob, none of his kids was interested in taking over the family business, instead choosing to be restauranteurs, stockbrokers, and high school teachers. And that's why Bob called his nephew to see if he knew anyone who might be interested in running the company in a couple of years when Bob retired.
It wasn't the first time that Bob had turned to his nephew for advice. Jeff had helped him on a few occasions in the past, and actually consulted to the executive team a year earlier on a substantial project around teamwork, which was one of the firm's values. Jeff had focused his efforts on building more effective teams at the highest levels of the company.
Bob loved the work Jeff did, and often bragged about his nephew during family reunions, usually saying something to the effect of “this boy is my best advisor.” His cousins teased Jeff, pretending to resent their father's favoritism.
Bob thought so much of Jeff that he had absolutely no expectation that his ambitious nephew in the exciting world of high tech would ever be interested in working in construction. Which is why he was so stunned when Jeff asked, “Would you consider hiring someone without industry experience? Someone like me?”


Within the month, Jeff and Maurine Shanley had sold their tiny home in San Mateo and moved their two children and one dog to the northern end of Napa—the town, not the valley. Jeff's commute to the Valley Builders office was about four miles, and even if he drove the speed limit, it took just seven minutes.
It was during those minutes that Jeff experienced an initial wave of remorse. Though everything on the domestic side of his decision had been going well, learning the nuances of the construction industry proved to be more of a challenge than he expected. Or, more precisely, it was the lack of nuance that was the problem.
Everything in construction seemed to come down to physical, material issues. Gone were the days of theoretical debates and pie-in-the-sky planning. Jeff now found himself learning about concrete matters having to do with everything from air conditioning to lumber to, well, concrete.
But soon enough, Jeff not only got used to this new way of working, he actually came to prefer it. Straightforward conversations about tangible things may have been less sophisticated than high tech, but they were also more gratifying. And he was learning more than he could have imagined from his uncle, who never finished college but seemed to have a better understanding of business than many of the CEOs Jeff had worked with in technology.
After eight weeks of observation and learning, Jeff came to the conclusion that the move to Napa was the right one and that the stress of his previous life in the Silicon Valley was over.
He was wrong.

Part Two


The Ropes

Bob Shanley had never been a cautious man, which was one of the reasons his firm had done so well. He had been decisive and bold in growing the company when others were hedging their bets. Aside from the occasional and inevitable economic downturns, most of Bob's decisions had yielded significant long-term benefits.
The firm had more than two hundred people on staff, making it one of the larger employers in the area. Those employees, ranging from entry-level construction workers to architectural engineers, were generally well compensated and, more important to Bob, had generous benefits plans. Though bonuses varied from year to year depending on the region's economy and the success of Bob's business development, no one who worked at Valley Builders felt underpaid.
Employees weren't the only people who depended on VB's financial success. A small group of family members, whom Bob called “private shareholders,” had a financial stake in the company. These were Bob's wife and kids, as well as a few of his siblings who helped him launch the company more than three decades earlier. One of those siblings was Jeff's dad, who had relied on the financial windfall to help fund his retirement.
During those first months on the job, Jeff had focused almost exclusively on learning the operations of construction. This consisted primarily of studying the day-to-day tactical and financial nature of the business, everything from materials acquisition and scheduling to permitting and labor costs. Bob decided to wait a few months to teach Jeff about the longer-term strategic issues related to the company's overall financial health and new business development. Though Jeff certainly asked a few questions about those issues, Bob assured him that he would sit down with Jeff to review that part of the business as soon as his nephew felt comfortable in the blocking and tackling of the construction industry.
Jeff had no idea how soon that day would come and what a shock that conversation would be. For that matter, neither did Bob.


Sitting down for lunch at an upscale BBQ restaurant near the Napa River, Bob got right to the point.
“Here's the deal. I am ridiculously happy that I hired you. You've already been a blessing to me and the company.”
Jeff felt as gratified by this feedback as any he had heard in his career, probably because it came from a family member. But he could tell his uncle had more to say.
“In fact, I'm not going to wait a year to put you in charge. We're going to do it right away.”
Caught completely off guard by the announcement, Jeff pushed back. “Whoa. I don't think we should get ahead of—”
Smiling, Bob waved his hand and interrupted. “Don't start telling me you're not ready, because I already know that.”
Jeff was confused.
“I don't want you to be ready, Jeff. I want you to be excited. A...

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Also by Patrick Lencioni
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Introduction
  7. The Fable
  8. The Model
  9. Acknowledgments
  10. About the Author
  11. End User License Agreement
Citation styles for The Ideal Team Player

APA 6 Citation

Lencioni, P. (2016). The Ideal Team Player (1st ed.). Wiley. Retrieved from (Original work published 2016)

Chicago Citation

Lencioni, Patrick. (2016) 2016. The Ideal Team Player. 1st ed. Wiley.

Harvard Citation

Lencioni, P. (2016) The Ideal Team Player. 1st edn. Wiley. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Lencioni, Patrick. The Ideal Team Player. 1st ed. Wiley, 2016. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.