The Ideal Team Player

Kirjoittaja: Toni Uusimäki

29 maaliskuun, 2022

Lähdeteos: The Ideal Team Player

Lähdeteoksen kirjoittaja: Patrick Lencioni

Teoriapisteet: 2


Once again, I venture into Lencioni’s world of workplace psychology. I read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team as part of our book “workout” last semester. Fortuitously, this also brings back memories, as Lencioni’s book about dysfunctions was the first book I ever read here at Team Academy. Considering the author’s coherence in terms of the thought process, this reflective essay will most definitely include some recurring, and honed, thoughts regarding the dysfunctions book. This may very well turn out to be more beneficial than harmful. Also, the timing of this reflection is perfect. I was recently offered a job at Valtra for the summer, which I obviously accepted. The position I’ll be starting at is strongly focused on teamwork. Hence, I’ll be referring to the job repeatedly.

Let’s transcribe every facet of the upcoming job and the team which I’m going to be joining. First off, the team size will be nearly comparable with our team at the Academy, so about 11 people + the leader. Secondly, nine of the members have worked in the same department for years already. And lastly, I won’t be the only summer employee. I’ll be sharing responsibilities with one other student, probably. Luckily, I have experience in joining a team which has been organized already, Sentia. Oh, and the majority of the work will be remote, apart from the induction period. Definitely will take a while to get used to.

Lencioni’s Book Conjunction

Maybe now would be a good time to start writing about the book. I cannot begin without first bringing up the main theory of team dysfunctionality, according to Lencioni, lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, lack of accountability and a tendency to focus on egocentric results. Very relevant, yes, but this section in the book felt like repeating old facts after reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In the name of repetition, I won’t mind. Though, I found the key takeaway to be the fact that one person is enough to break the chain of a well-oiled machine that is a properly functional team.

I reached the realization that this particular book is truly meant for the subordinates in a team, as the dysfunctions book is aimed towards the leaders. Sounds straightforward and well, that’s because it is. The level of realization just extends deeper, to the point where the benefits of interchanging the books and the roles that respectively are linked to those books are evident. What’s better than a subordinate who understands the struggles and primary goals of the team and vice versa. To summarize, I think it’s strongly constructive to read both of these books regardless of your role in a team. The fact is that we’re all people in the end. We should act and respect each other like it.

Characteristics of an Ideal Subordinate

Anyway, now on to the actual subject, the qualities of an exemplary team worker. I’ll start by gathering most of my general thoughts concerning that particular adjective.

  • Hunger

By hunger, I don’t mean physiological hunger (I’m pretty sure neither did Lencioni), but the hunger for learning and evolving. Usually accompanied by taking on more responsibilities. This is somewhat of a controversial topic. Sure, hunger is profoundly important, but moderation is like the missing piece of the puzzle. Without proper moderation, one will become overwhelmed, and the quality of work will deteriorate. Quality over quantity, as they say. My soon-to-be supervisor and I talked about this exact phenomenon. She deemed it most detrimental, which I fully agreed with.

  • Smartness

One concrete thing I learned, at least, is that smartness and intelligence are not synonymous. Or rather, I got a clearer understanding of the difference. Smartness is a skill which is acquired by conscious self-development. Intelligence is a more genetically dependent quality. Smartness also includes more applied practical situations. In the workplace, this usually appears as good social skills, communication skills and as the ability to truly listen. Using these skills, one can develop group dynamic interpretation which is strongly linked to emotional intelligence.

While we’re on the topic of social psychology, and the psychology of emotions, more specifically, the tone and manner of communicating is substantial. Even in the most arduous of situations, an emotionally intelligent individual can communicate without the need to emphasize negative emotions such as aggression. This is important since conflicts are bound to transpire. I wonder if whoever is reading this can discern what my favorite subject is when it comes to writing.

  • Humility

By far the most important one and, on top of that, one of my most meaningful values. I have a feeling this isn’t as relevant in Finland as it is somewhere else (the US) but still worth mentioning and is definitely an essential paradigm when evaluating employees. Furthermore, this is somewhat tied to the fifth dysfunction, not pursuing egotistical results instead of team results. Generally, lack of humility stems from one’s desire to please others or gain everyone’s acceptance.

I don’t find it necessary to dismantle this section any further. Everyone knows egocentrism and arrogance belong on the list of the worst characteristics in existence, at least to some extent. A foundational element in a well-functioning team is for every member to be able to care for each other.

Final Words

This has been quite the journey. I started to remember things I didn’t have any recollection of and that is quite satisfying. It almost feels like finding a secret room in a house you’ve lived in for your whole life. Regarding the writing process itself, I’m beginning to notice that 1000 words in English are not equivalent to 1000 words in Finnish. Nevertheless, I still consider this being well worth the effort.

This short chapter is devoted to small indistinct facts and axioms which aren’t often kept in mind. Conflicts don’t have to be aggressive, adverse situations, rather, they can have the opposite effect to the development of a team when handled properly. This one I felt exceptionally resonating, every team member is, in a way, a role model to other members. And last but not least, not being resistant to change but instead enforcing it if need be.

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