To discover the surprising lever of career success, begin with Belbin

The voice on the phone was snappy and cheerful“Venu Sir, could you please vet the Open House transcripts we have sent you? We want to publish your talk in our in-house journal”

Venu was among the distinguished alumnus of the institution after his long and illustrious career as a widely respected HR professional and was among the select few who had gone on to become an outstanding CEO. Retirement wasn’t in his lexicon. He kept engaging himself with his former employer, as coach and mentor of their leadership team, besides helping with induction of management trainees.

As he put the phone down, Venu recalled how it wasn’t easy deciding on what to speak to the rookie batch. This was a dauntingly diverse group. Except, of course, for the the stars their eyes. What can take them beyond merely doing well in their maiden roles? What is the one enduring message that will empower them in the unforgiving real world they were stepping into?

What is the one thing that drives career success?

As Venu searched for answers from his own career, one thing stood out. Individual brilliance had helped. But that took you only a short distance.

The real differentiator was self awareness and the ability to leverage the diversity of strengths of those around you. For this life-changing insight he had to thank Belbin.

So, Venu had shared what he had been told in his student days.. Watch your thoughts, they become words, which then become actions and behavior. Character flows from repetitive behavior, determining your destiny. Venu then spoke of how thoughts and words were intangibles, fleeting like clouds across an unchanging sky. Behaviour, on the other hand, was the most tangible. Climbing the corporate pyramid was more often about coming first among equals. So,if there was a single lever that could help navigate to career success, it had to be one’s own behavior and the ability to leverage behaviors of others. Hence the Belbin’s key insight “Each of us has a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.” With this introduction, Venu had given them an overview of the team roles. And how the Belbin approach identifies nine different Team Roles - clusters of behavior - that are displayed in the workplace and how these come from three orientations – People, Thinking and Action:

Venu then took them on a tour de force of Belbin and how Belbin insights had helped him create astounding professional and personal success. In the Open House that followed, the group didn’t hold back any punches. Reviewing the transcripts, Venu was struck by how quickly the batch had taken to the Belbin approach.

What are Team Roles? 

Q: Some of us are into marketing, some into finance and a few into HR. We will all be playing professional roles. What makes the Team roles different?

Venu: Team roles deal with our preferred ways of relating with each other and contributing in a team situation.This is independent of our functional roles, that have more to do with professional responsibilities. For instance, a Belbin Plant is highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways and will bring her/his Plant behaviour into play regardless of functional role. So, you will find Plants in Marketing and HR. There are Finance Plants too

Personal and Interpersonal Effectiveness

Q: Can Belbin make me personally more effective?

Venu: Of course. I have personally found it of immense value. I discovered early on that it takes a range of strengths to make a successful career, or to succeed in a given project. It is daunting for each of us to excel in all required strengths. So, Individual capabilities cannot take you very far. Identify strengths in others that you don’t possess and work with them. This is where teams and team roles come in. Therein lie the seeds of success. ‘The operative word is ‘Complementarity’. A Plant needs a Monitor Evaluator to tell her if the ideas will work. Every team requires Implementers who can turn ideas into action and Shapers to maintain focus on the task at hand. Once you recognize this, whether in professional or personal life, you have taken the first big step towards personal effectiveness

What is an allowable weakness?

Q: How about our weaknesses? Does BELBIN tell you how to deal with them?

Venu: I am glad you asked. In the Belbin lexicon these are ‘allowable weaknesses’. Each team role brings with it not just strength or contribution, each of them also has ‘allowable weaknesses’ ... two sides to the same coin. For example, the Resource Investigator might be too good at connecting with the outside world while forgetting to follow up on a lead. Completer Finishers, often driven by anxiety to get things right, can take their perfectionism to extremes. The beauty is that, the moment you recognize these are “allowable weaknesses” you develop a wholly affable approach of dealing with yourself, your colleagues and teams at large. Success is sure to follow.

What is the 'one' thing that makes successful careers?

Q: If you are allowed only one punchline on making a successful career, what would that be?

Venu: Nobody can be perfect, but a team can be. Well that’s the one liner you need to take with you. Be aware of yourself and others, in terms of behavioral strengths and allowable weaknesses. And BELBIN can certainly give you an early mover advantage in this life long journey. Wish you all good luck and God Speed with all your cherished aspirations.

Let's keep making BELBIN Happen!

Here are some quick and easy ways for you to get started with BELBIN. Pick the option that best speaks of your interest

  • Keep me updated on upcoming events & latest insights from the Belbin world on transforming performance of people and teams
  • Let me begin by downloading a 2 Pager on the nine BELBIN Team Roles
  • Let me begin by downloading samples of a BELBIN Individual Report and BELBIN Team Report
  • I want to BELBIN an individual and a team. Tell me how.
  • I want to get BELBIN Accredited. Tell me how.

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