Review The good mate

The book The good mate – How understanding team relationships can make you happier and more productive, by James Johnson and Evan Sorensen, offers the tools and shows the needed skills for successful team relationships. The book combined two decades of research (Standish Group) on emotional intelligence behavior of project teams with 40 years of research on successful marriage and family dynamics.

You are master of your destiny

The research tells that you are the only person who can improve you. The book is about how to make you happier in a place where you spend much of your time – at work, with your team. It is very unlikely that you will be able to change their behavior. In fact, it is very likely the harder you try to do that, the less successful and more frustrated and unhappy you will become. Your behavior will dictate how your teammates treat you.

A step towards project success

You must become one with your team. In other words, you must be synchronized with your teammates while you improve your own emotional maturity skills.

To do this, you, and your teammates:

  • must have a good, clear, and agreed-upon understanding of the project
  • Need to know the skills required and how they relate to the organization’s goals for the project.

Principles and skills

The authors have distilled 10 principles to build a better team by becoming a better teammate. Each principle is discussed in a separate chapter where five associated “soft skills” are discussed in detail (in total 50 soft skills). Every chapter ends with a quiz, a how to and an individual daily exercise and checklist. In each chapter a married couple Sue and John give their daily exercise outcome.

PrincipleSoft skills
Becoming influentialInspirationMaintaining a positive perspective Keeping promises AwarenessEmpathy
Mindfulness MediationManaging emotional floodingEmotional regulationDiscernmentDiffusing stress
Awareness of the five deadly sinsAbstinenceIgnoranceFraudulenceArroganceOverambition
Problem-solvingSolution understanding  Value managementBuilding consensusThe art of the compromiseClarity of purpose
CommunicationManaging defensivenessEliminatingDestructive criticismDeveloping good ritualsUse of analogiesAttentive listening
AcceptanceDecision acceptanceSubject matter expertiseCompetencySharing the factsKnowing how to deliver bad news quickly  
RespectGood mannersLeading with your best selfConnectionsDemonstrationManaging expectations
Becoming a good ‘confrontationist’ NegotiationManaging trade-offsSolving solvable disagreementsManaging unsolvable disagreementsDealing with a toxic person
Civility Advocating honorCreating a shared meaningBeing all-in for the teamEthical appreciationMaintaining objectivity
Being drivenSpeedProgressionReducing decision latencyParticipating in retrospectivesBeing on the same page as your team  

Different ways

In the book you can find different ways to become a good mate. To mention a few: by reading individual chapters and doing the associated individual exercises or complete the good mate appraisal and benchmark or you could execute as a group the guide to good team workshops. In the appendices you can find the guide to good team group workshops, general exercises, and mate map exercises as well as the script The public execution of miss Scarlet.


In the latest report CHAOS 2020: Beyond Infinity the Standish Group has determined three factors (good sponsor, good team, and good place) that most seriously affect the outcome of a software project. This book helps to create a good team starting with yourself. It describes 10 principles including five associated “soft skills” each, to build a better team by becoming a better teammate. Each principle is discussed in a separate chapter where five associated “soft skills”

To order The good mate:

One response to “Review The good mate

  1. Pingback: Overview of my year 2022 book reviews | Henny Portman's Blog

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