Some of my main objectives as a strategic business coach is to boost the senior management team’s performance. I use different frameworks and models to test team performance and behavior. Each of these frameworks and models have their own advantages and disadvantages. In this article we will discuss about 4 roles that makes all teams more effective.

One of my absolute favorites is from the photographer David Kantor who is known as the 4-player communication model. It applies to every team that solves problems and works together to achieve common objectives. Each position is quite easy to understand, but working together on the same team can be a balancing process.

Here are explanations I give to senior managers so that they understand more about their position and the role of other people in the situation. Once you are aware of the roles, you can quickly adjust your conduct to balance the dynamics.

  1. The Mover

The main role in any debate is the mover. They are the ones who start the collective activity. This might be a question, a recommendation or putting a problem on the table. Their mission is to promote the team to engage in conversation, discussion and ultimately move the project forward.

Without having a mover, a team becomes trapped and indifferent. They will not be able to make progress, create something new and transform ideas into action plans. While many teams consist of highly-driven managers, it is essential that the mover helps the team progress, not just be impatient and bossy. A strong mover represents the team, not their own agenda.

  1. The Supporter

Whereas the mover is crucial, I want to say that the toughest role of the team is the supporter. It’s the guy who supports the motion. You stand up to the idea, views, strategy, etc. A mover can start things off, but they will have slight impact or progress without having a supporter.

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The best approach here is that the supporter needs to back up the idea, not the person. If the sponsor turned out to be a sycophant currying favor for political benefit, that will not work. You will throw the weight behind the logic of the proposal and give a strong argument.

I always consider this position lacking when a senior management team struggles. Because participants of a top team often drive and decide, they want to be movers and no one wants to be the supporter. On very strong teams, leaders recognize the position of the supporter is crucial to making good choices and jumping in when they see the need.

  1. The Opposer

When it is the task of the supporter to bring energy to the mover, so it is the role of the opposer to provide the party with a check and balance. This is a crucial task to help ensure that certain aspects are addressed, so that future threats and disadvantages are thoroughly assessed. A good opposer will help the team avoid pitfalls and avoid missing out on other chances.

Having suitable opposers usually isn’t a problem for a senior leadership team. That’s not just reasoning for the sake of argument though. A good opposer raises legitimate concerns and issues, and is there to help evaluate all options for the team. Very often I see managers opposed without presenting a clear argument or offering adequate justification. Bad opponents can make ad hominem attacks to kill the morale and effectiveness of a team.

  1. The Observer

Finally, each team needs individuals who retain a higher-level viewpoint and keep an eye on the larger picture. There are analysts on the squad. They assist facilitate the process, and ensure that all choices and factors are considered by the team. A team with good observers will have a powerful process and will have much less chance of going down rat holes and spinning their wheels. The Observer is one of the main roles that makes all teams more effective.

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Every effective and strong team I’ve worked with has repeatedly demonstrated the use of these four roles. Members don’t need to stay forever in every role though. In fact, members will move among roles in the strongest teams I work with as the discussion shifts and they see a need to balance out the dynamics.

In your opinion what makes all teams more effective other than these roles? Let us know in the comments section below.


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