Dr. David Kantor, Ph.D. is one of the world’s leading Systems Psychologists.  He was a Professor at Harvard University and the Tufts Medical School and now heads the Kantor Institute which studies systems dynamics theory and its application to organizational leadership, team development and family therapy. Yet in spite of the complexity of his field, one of his most important contributions is quite simple and easy to understand.  After considerable research, which he documents in his latest book just out, “Reading the Room”, he sustains his “Four Player Model” of Team Balance: conviction is that to be high-performing, top management teams need a good balance between the four forces or roles: Movers, Followers, Opposers and Bystanders.  More concise than Belbin and more scientifically substantiated than other models, the Four Player Model is a useful tool for all Top and Middle Management Teams.

From his research and also from my experience, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  • These are assumed roles, not psychological profiles, although each one is frequently associated with certain personality characteristics.
  • Top Managers (CEOs and VPs), should be talented enough to be able to “pick and choose” the most appropriate role in a given moment, in spite of any personal preference.
  • Most Middle and Top Execs excel in at least two of the roles.
  • Every team needs at least one and preferably two strong proponents, or players as he calls them, of each role.
  • If a given proponent is too extreme or inflexible in his “favorite” role, this is generally prejudicial to the team process.
  • If one of the four roles is not well represented in a team, the decisions are frequently poor, irrelevant or left unexecuted.

How does your team or those of your clients stack up?



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