Being a team player has always been important to me as I’ve played and coached sports teams, served on committees, parented our children, and in the ongoing process of developing our DVFBC team.


If you’ve read the 2021 theme book we sent to you in January — The Ideal Team Player by Pat Lencioni, you may know where I’m going with this.  Yes, I totally resonate with Lencioni’s 3 key traits of ideal team players:  Humble, Hungry, and (People) Smart.


  • Being Humble– confident but not arrogant humility, committed, no excessive ego, quick to share credit, and will always emphasize the team over him/herself.
  • Being Hungry – self-motivated yet diligent hunger, having a desire for increased responsibility, driven to succeed, and a life-long learner
  • Being (People) Smart – self-aware with good judgment, working effectively with others, and self-aware of one’s words and actions and how they impact others.


Per the graphic, when you have an intersection of these three virtues – 3 for 3 – you have defined an Ideal Team Player. This is where great teams and companies are built.


Lencioni also describes the gaps and impact when a team member is lacking one of these traits.  For example, he defines the most dangerous team member as lacking humility. Perhaps we’ve all experienced  working with a “skillful politician” – a team member who is hungry, smart and lacking humility.


Lencioni notes: “These people are cleverly ambitious and willing to work extremely hard, but only in as much as it will benefit them personally. Unfortunately, because they are so smart,      skillful politicians are very adept at portraying themselves as being humble, making it hard for    leaders to identify them and address their destructive behaviors.”


Knowing, cultivating, and hiring for key attributes is extremely important in family businesses as these vital attributes:

  1. Drive the highest levels of team accountability & performance.
  2. Are highly transferable between the 5 MOUNTAIN® Team: Family, Management, Shareholders, Board, Advisors.

We’ve found this book to be helpful in our 5 MOUNTAIN® Peer Groups and in our coaching.  And this short leadership fable includes a powerful framework and easy-to-use tools for identifying, hiring, and developing ideal team players in any kind of family or organization.  Remember, people are often hired for skills and fired for who they are; many times they lack one or more of these important attributes.


I encourage you to use Lencioni’s questions and process in The Ideal Team Player:

  1. invite your team into a process to assess you and every member of the team
  2. identify and hire future team members


I am eager to hear how Humble, Hungry and Smart is enhancing your culture and increasing performance and accountability!


Sally Derstine

Managing Partner, Senior Family Business Advisor
sally in frame

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