9 Roles of Individuals on Teams

The Tipster brings you big ideas in small bites.


Our weekly feature, The Tipster, brings you easy-to-digest tips on topics that matter to your innovative work.

This Week: What are some of the different roles individuals play in teams?

Learn more about how individual team roles affected group decision-making for team members from the following organizations:

Ever wondered why some teams just seem to work and others hit the rocks?

In the 1970s, Dr. Meredith Belbin and his research team at Henley Management College set about observing teams to find out where and how these differences come about.

Over a period of nine years, they studied international management teams. The research revealed that the difference between success and failure for a team was not dependent on factors such as intellect of individual team members, but more on the behavior of those individuals.

What is a team role?

Belbin and his team began to identify separate clusters of behavior, each of which formed distinct team contributions or “Team Roles.”  They defined a team role as: “A tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.”

Belbin’s work uncovered nine archetypal team roles, all of which have essential parts to play in successful team work over time. Belbin’s research also gives team members a common language to help individuals form productive working relationships, develop high-performing teams, raise self-awareness, identify talent, and aid in recruitment.

As you create your own innovation teams, we encourage you to bring together a team whose members’ role preferences (as far as you can ascertain them) are likely to cover as many as possible of the following characteristics:

Belbin Team Role Summary Descriptions

Do these 9 team roles resonate with you? Can you think of individuals on your own organization’s team whose behavior preferences match up with one of these team roles? Share in the comments below.

Every week, the Tipster brings you easy-to-digest bits of inspiration to challenge your thinking and advance your practice.