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Why is it that some groups of people perform at a phenomenal level and are always on the winner's stand, while other groups always struggle to make it? The answer lies in how people perform their team roles. When you allocate the right team role to the right team player, and ensure that your players are flexible enough to cover all the roles that the team needs, then winning becomes inevitable.

Here are the 9 key team roles that all successful teams need.

1. The Co-ordinator. Research has shown that all great teams need someone whose main job is to co-ordinate all the team's activities. This person may or may not be the official team leader. Whether they are or not, they are like the team's compass, a quiet point in the middle of activity. People gravitate towards the co-ordinator to get their bearings and re-fuel.

2. The Go-fer. The team "go-fer" is the person who happily "goes for this" and "goes for that". He or she is perfectly happy to do all the nitty-gritty jobs that nobody else wants to do and without which things would soon break down. Always highly energetic, the Go-fer doesn't mind what they have to do. They even enjoy botched jobs just for the pleasure of re-doing them!

3. The Relater. If you don't have a Relater on your team, team life quickly becomes cold and formal. The team Relater is the team's people person. They want everyone in the team to enjoy themselves and have a sixth sense that tells them when someone is not happy. One of their natural gifts is acting as the team matchmaker as they instinctively know who will work well with whom.

4. The Maverick. The Maverick is not a natural team player but is still essential to the good health of the team. That's because the Maverick is the person who is not afraid to swim against the tide. He or she doesn't care if they are in a minority of one even when everyone else takes a different stand. Such a role is an invaluable defence against groupthink, the tendency of the team to think as one.

5. The Observer. The Observer is the team's eyes and ears. They see the big picture, know what's going on, and can foresee problems before they happen. Often team Observers are gatekeepers, possibly receptionists, secretaries, or security personnel. They not only know the official version of events, but the unofficial as well.

6. The Checker. Checkers are people who like things to be done in an orderly fashion. When others in the team run away with ideas, the Checker will always call them back to cross the I's and dot the T's. By nature cautious and suspicious, Checkers always search for the safest route for the team to travel.

7. The Moralist. Those who fill the "moral" role in teams provide the team with its rules and standards and its musts and shoulds. They are the standard bearers for the right way for the team to proceed. They hate it when others break the rules and insist that the team should act according to plan including a high standard of performance.

8. The Winner. Winners are the stars of most teams. They have an instinct for promoting the team and themselves. When others on the team feel down, Winners gee them up. And when the team face tough assignments, they either put themselves forward as the team's champion or rally the team to push themselves to new heights.

9. The Leader. The Leader role is not always filled by the official team leader. The Leader is a leader by personality and nature. He or she is often the most dominant person in the group and invariably the loudest and most fearless. They can get others to do anything for them which is why official team leaders need these people on their side and not against them.

When you have a team in which there is an equal mix of all of these roles, it's like belonging to a Dream Team. Everyone's needs are met and the balance of roles ensures that the team moves forward and fulfils its potential.

(c) Eric Garner, ManageTrainLearn.com.

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