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THE BLOG
  • Amie Gamboian

When Your Team Has Gaps

We all want to show up well on our respective leadership teams. But, when leaders leave the definition of “well” up for debate, we create inconsistencies and frustrations for our teams. Clarity at the leadership team level will help establish clear expectations for character, creating the best chance for healthiness within your culture. Once determined, any virtue “gaps” in yourself or on your team will make a big impact and will be easy to spot. Overlooking the gaps will open the door to ongoing problems. Leaders: let’s agree to play offense instead of defense! Identify the character traits you need in team members, model them, then continuously coach into them. In his book, "The Ideal Team Player" Patrick Lencioni considers the value of these traits in leadership: humility, hunger and people smarts. Leaders with these traits are referenced as “ideal team players” by champions of the organizational health movement. These three key virtues lay the foundation for teams to overcome the five team dysfunctions and achieve organizational health. Ideal team players are the most positively impactful team members because they . . .

  • have little ego and share credit where it's due.

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

  • take on whatever they can for the sake of the team.

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

  • engage in difficult conversations and tough love.


When it comes to teamwork, having only two out of three virtues is problematic.


Humble and Hungry, but not Smart: The Accidental Mess-Maker

  • will genuinely want to serve the team

  • is not interested in getting a disproportionate amount of attention and credit

  • lack understanding of how their words and actions impact the team

  • inadvertently create problems on the team that colleagues tire of cleaning up

  • are often highly coachable and respond quickly to feedback about this gap

Coaching Tips:

  1. Graciously point out “accidents” quickly (there’s no ulterior motive here).

  2. Ask questions about behaviors to help these team members connect the dots to impact.

  3. Share the “why” when modeling behavior.


Humble and Smart, but not Hungry: The Lovable Slacker

  • aren’t looking for undeserved attention

  • are adept at caring for the team

  • tend to do the minimum required and rarely take on more or step in to help others

  • have limited passion for the team’s work

  • become a drag on the team’s performance

  • need significant inspiration and management

Coaching Tips:

  1. Provide extremely clear role expectations and inspect what you expect.

  2. Encourage the use of daily checklists.

  3. Enforce deadlines.

  4. Call out unproductive behavior.


Hungry and Smart, but not Humble: The Skillful Politician

  • Cleverly ambitious and willing to work hard, but only if it benefits them

  • Adept at portraying humility, making it hard for others to identify destructive behaviors

  • Create a trail of negative, often extremely damaging, impact

  • Tend to rise on teams/in companies where performance is valued more than teamwork

Coaching Tips:

  1. Recognize that this is a dangerous combination that is likely to have long-lasting negative impact on the team.

  2. Coach to the behavior shift you want/need to see on a private, 1:1 basis.

  3. Address unproductive, detrimental behaviors immediately.

  4. Manage out of the organization if there are no changes in behavior. Most skillful politicians will not stay in healthy cultures because they prefer to operate where they can stir things up.


Many of our clients are using the Ideal Team Player model on their teams in hiring, onboarding, performance evaluations, recognition program and in coaching up or managing out. Using both the Ideal Team Player Self-Assessment and the Manager Assessment creates a solid data base for entering into personal and one-on-one conversations. How effective are you at recognizing the gaps in yourself and on your team? Do you address these gaps and coach them up?








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