Archives June 2021

Humble, Hungry, and Smart – Get Your Hiring Interview Guide

We often talk about whether someone is a team player. In interviews, performance reviews, or while sharing feedback, everyone agrees that being a team player is extremely desirable in an employee (or a potential hire). Despite widespread usage of the phrase and agreement on its importance, great team players are rather rare.

Why is that so?

Credit to The Table Group

Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that although we all have our own notions of what team players are like, we lack a formal, practical framework to define the qualities ideal team players should possess.

In this post, I want to share what I learned about the virtues that real team players must possess and how leaders can identify, hire for and cultivate those qualities in teams.

In this book, Patrick Lencioni’s central thesis is that an ideal team player possesses a potent combination of three virtues — humble, hungry, and smart.

Further, Lencioni states, when a team member significantly lacks one or more of these virtues, the process of building a cohesive team becomes hard, and in some cases, impossible. So leaders should ensure that they hire people who demonstrate these attributes and actively develop these qualities in the people already in their team.


The three virtues:

Humble: This is by far the most obvious and easiest to understand. Humility in a team member shows up as a lack of excessive ego or concerns about status. They are quick to share credit, praise others freely, and sometimes even forego credit due to them in the interest of celebrating the team’s collective win. They demonstrate strong alignment towards the team’s goals and prioritize collective wins over individual ones. Humble team players are self-confident but not arrogant. A memorable quote that summarizes this indispensable attribute is: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

Hungry: Hungry people are always looking for more. They are intrinsically motivated, diligent, and have a strong desire to do more by going above and beyond. Hungry people do not have to be pushed by their managers to perform; they constantly look for more responsibility and think about the next step and the next opportunity (for the team).

Smart: By ‘smart,’ the author here refers to emotional intelligence and interpersonal awareness: The capability to conduct oneself in a group situation and deal with others in the most effective way. Emotionally intelligent people ask good questions, listen to what others are saying, and engage in conversations intently. Smart people exercise great judgment and intuition around the subtleties of group dynamics and are fully aware of the effect their words will have on the team.

To be a real team player, one must embody all these qualities. Being deficient in any one of them will lead to undesirable effects on the cohesion of the team.

The lack of one or more of these virtues leads to some interesting personas. See if you can relate to having dealt with any of these:

The accidental mess-maker:  This person is Humble and Hungry, but not Smart!

The skillful politician:  Meet the skillful politician, who is Hungry and Smart, but not Humble!

The lovable slacker:  Say hello to the lovable slacker, who is Humble and Smart but not Hungry!

The bulldozer:  You’ve got a bulldozer who’s Hungry, but neither Humble nor Smart.

How do you use this framework as a leader?

In hiring the right people: Nothing beats bootstrapping a team with team players and keeping a culture of solid teamwork. To do this, change the way you hire. The traditional one-dimensional approach of over-indexing technical skills and aptitude won’t give you insights into whether your potential hire is a good team player.

Click here to download the Humble, Hungry & Smart Interview Question and Insights Guide.

Why is all this ultimately important?

Having great team players is a prerequisite for effective teamwork, and it is solid teamwork that unlocks the true and full potential of teams.

People who are humble, hungry and smart demonstrate behaviours such as vulnerability-based trust, healthy conflict, active commitment, peer-to-peer accountability, and a focus on results — and these, in turn, will lead to incredibly successful teams.

How To Stop a Work Culture of Harassment (Part 1 of 3)

This article was originally published on October 12, 2017, and has been updated.

Odds are, you will never know there is a predator in your midst…I didn’t.

One of my direct reports was a bully, and I completely missed what was going on.

As a leader, it was my responsibility to create a work culture where employees felt they could come forward so harassment could be dealt with immediately.

I felt awful, because the team he led was made up of some of my longest serving employees, many of whom I considered friends. Yet they didn’t feel comfortable coming to me.


Leaders can allow and permit a culture where bullying, physical abuse and sexual harassment can take place.

I hear your blood-pressure alarm going off.

You’re indignant because you have a policy: ZERO tolerance for harassment.

You’re probably writing an email now to tell me the one harassment complaint you received was investigated and dealt with, and the predator was disciplined or fired.

But here’s the thing:

The news is full of organizations like yours, that pride themselves on strong leadership values.

These same organizations have binders full of policies that are replete with accusations of harassment and predatory activities—Canadian and American armed forces, the RCMP, and municipal police forces, to name a few.

So please save the energy you are about to spend on indignation, and invest that into action.

The Facts About Workplace Harassment

If someone is reporting harassment or bullying, I can assure you it has been going on for a very long time.

The statistics agree:

  • 52% of women report they have been harassed at work (CNBC)
  • 25% of all workers report some level of harassment or bullying (Queens University)
  • 33% of civil servants report they have been bullied or harassed (The National Post)

Canadian Business Magazine found that most people are victimized five times on average before they report or quit.

Most employees suffer in silence or move on to a new job.

Even in the most egregious form of harassment—sexual—a Huffington Post survey found that 70 percent of women who have been sexually harassed do not report.

Maybe I am too old and cynical, but I don’t think the human race will ever eliminate predators from the gene pool.

While I have my own thoughts on why these people exist, I’ll leave that up to psychologists.

What I do know and understand better than most is leadership.

What’s my point?

Predators exist, and they harass, abuse, assault, bully, and worse.

Are you really SO sure that it isn’t happening in your organization?

There are two interconnected reasons why you may never know what is going on:

  1. the victims do not trust the “system” to look after them; and
  2. the chain of command is seldom held accountable for the actions of the perpetrator.

Predators are persistent and ubiquitous and are currently—or will eventually be—in your organization.

It is bound to happen, but what you do about it is not preordained.

That’s what we’ll cover in Part 2 and 3 of dealing with a culture of harassment at work:

You need to build faith in the system so people will tell you (Part 2) and you need to hold your leaders accountable for what is happening on their watch (Part 3).

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check these out, too:

5 Tools That Helped Me Survive a Workplace Bully (Guest post)

80% Of Projects Fail Because Of ‘People’ Issues … Here Are 6 Things You Can Do To Reduce That Risk

People Pleasing Leaders & Soup Sandwiches – 5 Messes You Make When You Try to Make Everyone Happy