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  • Amie Gamboian

3 Essential Leadership Virtues

Since leadership is about what we achieve with and through others, having the right people on your team’s metaphorical “bus” is one of the most basic keys to your organizational success. It’s extremely unlikely your team will reach cohesion and be able to overcome common team dysfunctions without the right team players. Team cultures that demonstrate high levels of clarity around who they are AND who they are not are far more behaviorally aligned. These teams experience fewer silos, less relationship discord and greater overall morale. Your first step toward a high performing culture is to Identify the virtues which align with one. From there, you will need to consistently coach up these virtues to reinforce their value in your culture. Choose to coach these values so team members further develop them, rather than use them as hammers to emphasize a gap. Patrick Lencioni’s well-known “Ideal Team Player” work serves as an excellent guide for getting the right people onto your bus, but also for what virtues to consistently coach into internally. The ideal team player virtues of humility, hunger and smarts lead the way in the healthiest organizational cultures because these team members:

  • have little ego and regularly share accolades

  • work with a sense of energy, urgency, passion, and responsibility

  • are not above doing whatever they can for the sake of the team

  • say and do the right things for others to feel appreciated, understood and included

  • engage in difficult conversations using tough love

When it comes to teamwork, having just one out of three of the virtues will create problems. Consider the following labels and the gaps presented by each one.


Humble Only: Known as Pawns

  • pleasant, kind, unassuming people who just don’t feel the need to get a lot done

  • get left out of conversations and activities

  • have little impact on the performance of their team

  • can survive on teams that value harmony without demanding performance

Hungry Only: Known as Bulldozers

  • determined to get things done with a focus on their own interests and benefits

  • lack understanding of how their actions impact others

  • thrive in organizations that put top premium on production alone

  • self-focus creates destruction on teams

Smart Only: Known as Charmers

  • are entertaining and likable, but negligible contributions create quick negative impact

  • will have little interest in the long-term well-being of the team or their colleagues

  • social skills help them survive longer than bulldozers or pawns


Here are some tips for coaching up humility, hunger and smarts within your team members.


To encourage HUMILITY:

  • learn to praise others vs. taking the credit yourself

  • spotlight the team instead of yourself

  • admit your mistakes

  • apologize often and well

  • use "we" not "me" language

To encourage HUNGER:

  • note that this is the hardest trait to develop/coach in adults

  • create clarity around expectations

  • master self-accountability in the little disciplines

  • model the “extra mile” mindset and spotlight it

  • make very specific “asks” and create opportunities for people to step into them

  • map out success and follow a game plan instead of taking a haphazard approach

  • connect the team/organization goals to their "why"

To encourage SMARTS (people intelligence):

  • use the “coach approach” (using teachable moments to help him/her learn and grow)

  • remind your team member that manners, grace and common sense go a very long way

  • tackle the communication issue – it’s often a matter of unnecessary misunderstandings due to using 2D vs. 3D communication

  • develop a skill set for difficult conversations

Remember: what is caught is more important than what is taught. Hold yourself to a high standard and model these behaviors daily, then be willing to coach into them with members of your team.


I'll be here to help you along the way.







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