I called my Grandma to check on her as she was ill and in the Emergency Room last week. The first thing she said to me was, “Morgan, I know you are outspoken and like to get your point across, and I heard you have been having some group issues, but don’t worry about it. I know you like fairness, etc. but you have to learn that sometimes, in this world, fairness don’t always win. Sometimes it’s not worth it even when you’re right.”

I found that so funny because here I was calling to check on her and she went directly into giving me a lecture about working with others. I didn’t even tell her about my teamwork issues but clearly my mother did. Nevertheless, if she felt good enough to lecture me, then that must mean she definitely was feeling better. Her comments did make me think about my role in any group and how I function.

A few weeks ago I took the Belbin Self-Perception Inventory and without a shadow of a doubt, I unquestionably scored as a SHAPER (SH).

What is a SHAPER you might ask?

Below are the characteristics of a SHAPER: “Shapers are highly motivated people with a…great need for achievement. Usually they are aggressive extroverts and possess strong drive. SHs like to challenge others and their concern is to win. They like to lead and push others into action. If obstacles arise, they will find a way around. Headstrong and assertive, they tend to show strong emotional response to any form of disappointment or frustration.”

“SHs are single-minded and argumentative and may lack interpersonal understanding. Their’s is the most competitive team role.”

The function of a SHAPER is: “SHs generally make good managers because they generate action and thrive under pressure. They are excellent at sparking life into a team and are very useful in groups where political complications are apt to slow things down; SHs are inclined to rise above problems of this kind and forge ahead regardless. They are well suited for making necessary changes and do not mind taking unpopular decisions. As the name implies, they try to impose some shape or pattern on group discussion or activities. They are probably the most effective members of a team in guaranteeing positive action.”

I must admit, this description does sound a lot like how I function in groups. I do not really take excuses as to why things do not get done from other members of a group. I prefer for people just to get the work done and to forge ahead because the group depends on their effort. When that does not occur, I guess I could potentially tend to “lack interpersonal understanding.” That is something that I must work on as I realize that everyone is not as “aggressive,” “headstrong,” or “assertive” and because of that some people need more coddling that others.

Some people require me to be gentler with them because they cannot emotionally handle conflict or disagreement whereas I thrive in it. This is something that I have been learning as I work in various groups throughout this semester. It is definitely a learning experience as I hope to be the Manager of something one day. I have to learn to work with others and be sympathetic to their plight while encouraging and providing support for them to move on. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that there are some situations out of our control such as death, accidents, sickness, etc which can have a toll on anyone, but excuses suck as being tired from partying, mismanaging time, etc. are not acceptable.

Needless to say, I’ll take my Grandmother’s advice. Even if I am right, sometimes, it’s best to not be so assertive. It can serve as a turn-off sometimes and actually can take away from getting the task done. Instead of wasting time discussing how right I am and how wrong others are, the best thing to do is get the work done because at the end of the day, I don’t want to waste anymore time debating. Even though, I’m sure we all know, I’m right. lol

I encourage you to take the Belbin Self-Perception Invertory yourself and see if the results ring true.

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