The strength of the team is each individual member…the strength of each member is the team.
—Coach Phil Jackson, Chicago Bulls

We know successful teams consist of team members that have a common purpose, shared goals and the desire for their team to flourish. They also need to trust one another, hold one another accountable, and maximize individual strengths to make the team even stronger.

Inscape Publishing believes that four critical roles must also be filled for a team to be highly successful. They expanded a study conducted by Fahden and Namakkal, which found that optimal teams are not only comprised of individuals with differing styles and behaviors but that key roles must be filled.

Four Roles Required For a Successful Team


Generates the concepts and ideas. Looks for solutions that may be unusual or unique; goes beyond the obvious. Creators generate fresh, creative and original ideas, recognizes alternatives and sees the “big picture”. Once the idea is generated it gets passed to an Advancer.


Recognizes ideas and new directions early on and develops ways to promote them. Advancers plan based on past experiences and successful methods, prefer familiar ideas and but are open to new concepts and will not be discouraged by rules and boundaries. Once there is structure toward implementation the idea is passed to a Refiner.


Concepts are challenged and a methodical process is used to analyze, apply order, and look for flaws or possible problems with the concept or idea. Refiners are good at reviewing ideas and implementation plans, at modifying and coming up with new ideas, and rationally reviewing them to ensure success. The final pass off is to the Executor. If the concept or idea is not ready for implementation, the Advancer and Creator may get re-engaged, execute their role and then re-pass it to the Refiner.


Team objectives are followed up on and ideas and solutions are implemented. The Executor focuses on ensuring the implementation plan is orderly and has been well thought out and strives for high-quality results. They enjoy their tasks and the responsibility of final implementation but prefer that others take the lead.

One other role is critical to the success of a team; the FLEXER. The Flexer objectively monitors the contributions of the team members, keeps them moving in the right direction, and steps in as needed.

The combination of these roles promotes innovation and teamwork and provides teams with a competitive edge.  Do you have the optimal team?

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
–Henry Ford