The Ideal Team Player – Part 2: What Does it Mean to be Humble?

March 14, 2017

"No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." – Micah 6:8 (NLT)

This verse so clearly articulates the issue at the core of the first virtue of the Ideal Team Player: humble.

While humility is likely the most familiar virtue, possessing and/or developing the virtue of humility is possibly one of the most difficult. Hunger can be developed. Learning how to read and respond correctly to people and the environment (Smart) can be taught. But humility is a virtue that sometimes can be difficult to develop in someone who naturally struggles with it.

However, Patrick Lencioni states that “humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.” Humility, therefore, is arguably the most important of the three virtues. A truly humble person will recognize their need for growth and is willing to grow within the remaining two virtues.

Humility Defined
Watchman Nee said, “Only the poor in spirit can be humble.” To be poor in spirit is to recognize the state of our humanity and understand that through our power and ability alone, we are capable of little. However, through God and His gifting, we can accomplish much.

A lack of humility can present itself in two opposite, yet equally destructive ways. First, a lack of humility is demonstrated through egotism and overt self-centeredness. Fortunately, a job interviewee or team member who is overtly self-centered and lacks humility is easily spotted and can either be passed over during the interview process or can be worked with through an intentional development process. This person needs to understand that we can accomplish much through God and His gifting.

The second demonstration of a lack of humility is a little tougher to spot, but the results can be equally (or more) devastating to a team: thinking too lowly of oneself. What makes this so difficult is that it initially appears as though the person struggling with humility is humble. But within a team environment, this can be detrimental because this person will not be willing to advocate for their own ideas or call attention to problems they see. This person needs to understand that they are gifted by God to accomplish much.

The Action Plan
It is likely that your team leader and team members know if there is someone on the team that lacks humility. However, conversations surrounding a lack of humility can be very difficult and require a great amount of trust between the people involved. Lencioni advises using these 6 statements to facilitate the conversation and assess humility:

  1. My teammates would say I compliment or praise them without hesitation.
  2. My teammates would say I easily admit to my mistakes.
  3. My teammates would say I am willing to take on lower-level work for the good of the team.
  4. My teammates would say I gladly share credit for team accomplishments.
  5. My teammates would say I readily acknowledge my weaknesses.
  6. My teammates would say I offer and accept apologies graciously.

While the conversations surrounding humility may be difficult, beginning an open and honest dialogue with the team could be the most important thing you do.

Stay tuned for more in this series!

For more information about the ideal team player, pick up a copy of "The Ideal Team Player" by Patrick Lencioni. To dive even deeper into creating your hiring and team development strategy, visit The Table Group for tools to assist you in your journey.

Joshua Delph

Supporter. Trainer. Code Writer. Creative Arts Pastor Turned Designer. Husband. Protective Dad of Teenage Daughter. Avid Grass Cutter. Living in the Freedom He Provides.