Team Roles

The Team Roles profile defines twelve roles, each critical to the dynamics of any given group. Roles tend to be oriented toward task achievement or group processes, but an overall balance is desirable between both of these for a team to function well.

A specific group may be located at the one place at the one time or dispersed over any area, and interactive either occasionally or continuously. In a group, any one person may fulfil any three or four roles at the same time.

The blend and balance of these roles influences their effectiveness, as does playing too many or too few roles.

Preference Factors assessed by this Profile are:

Factor Name Description A Low Preference
indicates…
A High Preference
indicates
A.
Initiator
This factor sets the direction, goals, path and pace for the group. This role, like all others, is affected by the other roles the person combines with it. For example, the Initiator – Ideator – Activator combination tends to produce a strong but self-centred leader, who may be successful in leading the team at the outset but not later. This person certainly has vision and flair, but can disregard the value of inputs from others. By contrast, the Initiator – Coordinator – Monitor combination produces the qualities of an effective leader. In a group, lets others set the goals, direction, path and pace. Takes the initiative to influence the group’s direction, goals, path and rate of progress, comfortable in leadership roles.
B.
Follower
In contrast to the Initiator, the Follower expects to be told what is wanted, how, when and where – but not necessarily why. Followers are amenable, fit in easily with other’s plans, and develop an attachment to their leader(s). Doesn’t expect to be told what stand to take, what to do, or where to fit in. Responds to positive leadership, wants to know what is expected and how to fit into the team.
C.
Coordinator
The coordinator may or may not have a place in formal coordination of team interaction, such as chairperson does. Often the coordinator is a peer member of the group, who makes sure that all are being included in the process. The coordinator encourages input from inactive members, separates concurrent inputs such as people talking over one another, and guides the assembly of what does come forth into a logical order. That is what a chairperson ought to do, but may not have in her or his role repertoire. Leaves coordination of group interaction to others in the group. Ensures team communication and activities fit together and that people cooperate. Enables others to have their say, sees that all views are heard.
D.
Liaisor
The liaisor provides an interface with the team’s ‘outside world’, whether that is within the organization they are part of, or in relation to a larger community. Concentrates on activities within own group, leaving intergroup contact to others. Establishes and maintains contact between own group and others. Keeps both parts in the picture and puts effort into improving intergroup relationships.
E.
Ideator
An ideator generates ideas, sometimes endlessly it may seem. They may or may not have the practical ability to translate the idea into action, or even to think it through to develop a plan. They tend to be optimistic, and easily find a way around obstacles – at least in principle. Values other people’s ideas. May have own ideas, but doesn’t press these forward until after considering what others suggest, or until invited. Contributes practical ideas to the group and is open to ideas from other people. Helps to build on their ideas, and finds a way around problems.
F.
Activator
The person filling this role gets people moving, providing both stimulus and impetus by encouraging, inspiring or impelling team members. He or she explains the ‘reason why’, appeals to feelings, and gives credit where it is due. Managers who have this trait tend to be effective group process leaders, but of these about half are more concerned for their own success than that of subordinates or the team they lead. Expects others to use their own initiative and doesn’t cause them to take willing action. Encourages, inspires or impels other people to take action toward common goals. Gains willing support of others and gives credit where it is due.
G.
Censor
Censors play a valuable role in any group, acting partly as conscience and partly as devil’s advocate, challenging ideas, beliefs and actions. Other team members often combine to shut out the censor, reacting more to what they hear as negativity than they do to the real issue or intention. This situation then enables mediators (below) in the group to play a part. But it would be more useful for the coordinator role to be active in keeping the interchange open and ongoing. Keeps the group calm and stable to avoid voicing criticism. Questions ideas, decisions and actions to test the group and the value of its activities, supports criticisms with valid observations.
H.
Supporter
The supporter is partly an alternative to the follower role, as it includes the capacity to commit oneself to the success of others, sometimes actively engaged, sometimes acting as mentor. It can be likened to a sports supporter, actively involved in club activities and out there for the team, or contrasted to a sports follower, who tends to look on without contributing (except to buy the advertiser’s product!). Lets others make their own way. Gives guidance and support to others in the group, to help them succeed. Shows interest in their success and sees that they get credit for their efforts.
I.
Mediator
Mediators work actively to resolve differences within the group. This person sees both sides of the story but doesn’t take sides, gets in between opponents and helps them to see a different point of view. The role is useful and necessary, but a surplus of mediators leads to unproductive competition for the role, due to duplication and overlap. This is an indicator of a dysfunctional group. Takes sides in issues when they are important, or lets them resolve themselves when they are not. Sees both sides of an issue, takes action to resolve differences, helps others to see the issue from another point of view, and to come to terms with one another.
J.
Monitor
This is one of the three key roles (with initiator and coordinator) for group effectiveness. The monitor checks progress against intentions, points out major discrepancies, and recommends corrective action to get the team back on course. In a sense, this role is the group’s control function. Management leaders are more effective when this role is associated with Initiator and Coordinator. Relies on others to keep check on the team’s progress toward its goals. Scans the group’s activities to keep check on progress, point out variances and exceptions, and recommends corrective action.
K.
Implementer
The Implementer provides the call for action. Of all the roles this one is most often ‘oversubscribed’. When that happens, groups tend to take action before the issue has been thought through. Muddlement, confusion, conflict and wasted effort follow. This reinforces the importance of the coordinator and monitor roles. Takes action only when sure the team is ready to do so. Wants to take action to get things done and, when the way is open, gets on with the job. But without a balance of roles in the group that leads to premature action.
L.
Administrator
Not least by far, this role takes care of details and makes sure the right things are done right in the right order. The role player thinks things through to provide a smooth passage, turning decisions into action, and using simple, flexible systems and processes. Takes events as they come, avoiding ‘bureaucratic’ systems. Needs some other role’s input to establish system and execute detailed follow up. Plans, organizes and controls follow-up, using simple and flexible systems and methods. Avoids waste, aims to have the desired result ready on time.

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