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Book review: The Ideal Team Player

Dec. 6, 2017 | by Mike Bonem

I’m excited to recommend Patrick Lencioni's recent book, The Ideal Team Player, to any church or organization that is seeking to build healthy teams. If you’ve read Lencioni's other work knows, you know that he is passionate about teamwork and organizational health. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team continues to be one of the best resources available to help leaders diagnose and address issues within their teams. 

I've had the opportunity to help several churches and ministries using the concepts from Five Dysfunctions. In many cases, they've taken significant steps forward. However, I have often been left with a nagging concern: what if some of the individuals don't value teamwork? What happens to the team if someone isn’t a team player? How do you assess this inherently subjective matter?

That's why I'm excited about Ideal Team Player. Written in the same fable style as Five Dysfunctions and most of his other books, Lencioni lays out a simple but powerful framework to describe the three key attributes of an ideal team player. I won't spoil the book by naming these characteristics, but I will say that they're not the things that you find on a resume. 

The three attributes are not only helpful, they align closely with Christian values. Lencioni is writing for a secular audience and doesn’t refer to any biblical passages, but it will be easy for a Christian leader to make the connections. Some readers might be offended by language that is occasionally salty, as the fable is set in a construction environment. 

Fortunately, Lencioni doesn't stop with naming the three attributes. He includes a number of ideas for what to do when someone falls short of the ideal, including specific suggestions for how they can be coached. He provides a tool that team members can use to assess how they stack up against the “ideal” standard. And he includes a number of great suggestions for how to conduct interviews to determine if someone is likely to be an ideal team player. 

The Ideal Team Player is a great addition to your reading list for you—and for your team.

Mike Bonem

Mike Bonem is an author, consultant, speaker, church leader, businessperson, husband and father. He loves to help ministries and their leaders reach their God-given potential through strategic planning, organizational design, and coaching. Mike’s books include Thriving in the Second Chair, In Pursuit of Great and Godly Leadership and Leading from the Second Chair. He has spoken across the country and internationally on topics related to ministry leadership and congregational effectiveness. Mike has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a breadth of experience in ministry and business, including 11 years as an executive pastor, consulting with Fortune 100 companies, and leading a start-up business. 

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