Business Schools Use Belbin to Build Teams and Develop Leaders

Twelve of the top 20 business schools in the world have used Belbin Team Roles in building their teams and developing leaders.  These are highlighted below in the latest ranking from The Economist.

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Source:  The world’s best MBA programmes: Which MBA? 2015 at The Economist, Oct 17th 2015

A central tenet of the application of Belbin Team Role Theory is playing to strengths and managing weaknesses. Developing versatility in how your top Team Roles are deployed situationally is a skill that can be learned over time and can contribute significantly to your effectiveness as a leader.

The Belbin Team Role methodology has demonstrated over time that all 9 roles are required on a team for the team to be effective. The secret is for you to have an in-depth understanding of your roles, how to improve them, and when to play them. Here’s how you can be more effective:

  • Play to Your Strengths:Identify which of the 9 Belbin Team Roles are your preferred roles (the roles in which you are most likely to succeed). You can do this with a Belbin Report.
  • Manage Your Weaknesses:Your Belbin Report will help you identify two kinds of weaknesses that you need to be aware of and manage.

Weaknesses that are associated with your strengths. For example a very outgoing person who is good at exploring new opportunities (the Resource Investigator Team Role) may not be stellar in finishing things off. A somewhat counter-intuitive strategy in dealing with this weakness is NOT trying to correct it, but rather to “manage” it. This may entail working with others or recognizing that this “weakness” is, in fact, an intrinsic part of being effective at this role.  

It is important to recognize that this “weakness” may, in fact, be an intrinsic part of being effective in this role. Working with others who do excel at this role is one tactic. In the example given here, an approach that could be adopted would be to be very diligent in developing reminders in a calendaring system and, if possible, working with an assistant (ideally an individual who is strong in the Completer Finisher and/or Implementer roles) as closely as possible. The bottom line on this issue, especially if you are in a leadership role, is that the team needs the job done. Using the excuse of having an allowable weakness is not acceptable.

Weaknesses related to the roles in which you are least likely to succeed; your least preferred roles. These are typically 3 or 4 roles in which you are not likely to be very effective. It is surprising how many people do not have a good fix on their weakest roles when we first analyze their “roles portfolio”. Once recognized (and accepted!) it is relatively easy to develop strategies to ensure that you do not set yourself up for failure by trying to fulfill the tasks that are usually associated with these roles.

High-performance teams over time gain highly developed skills in knowing what combination of roles fit the best when they are working in a one-on-one scenario or with larger groups of people. For a team to truly grow, it is helpful if members monitor and improve their Team Role performance as part of a personal development program and share the results with other team members.

If you’re interested in finding out more:

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   About the Author

Max is the CEO of Belbin North America. He brings a depth of knowledge and experience from his career in general management and consulting in North America, England, Europe and Asia. Max has assisted CEOs and senior leaders within client organizations with the design and implementation of Interaction Planning processes, team based organizational development programs and Lean Six Sigma initiatives.