The Belbin Model.
Is it British, American, Australian or truly International?
Many people may still strongly associate The Belbin Team Role Model with the UK and Europe.
It did of course originate in Cambridge UK, but exactly how "British" is it now?
Since its creation in the late 70's and early 80's the Belbin Model has beeen adapted, refined and robustly updated for business use like no other model. This ongoing growth of the model includes its suitability as a truly "International" tool for team and leadership development.
Whilst the head office for Belbin is still in the UK (and yes they may enjoy the odd "cup of tea" and multi-day "cricket match") the model itself has become a real "citizen of the world".
Not only is it available in many languages (including German, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese and many more), but its behavioural clusters are not limited to any specific cultural, gender or other major barriers to their universal applicability.
The old saying that "the scenery may change, but people don't" has some great relevence here. At depth when working in teams and as leaders, Belbin's 9 clusters of behaviour manifest just the same no matter where you are.
Whilst superficial cultural, national and ethnic barriers may exist within teams, Belbin can actually help break the ice here as its behavioural clusters are at depth those common to all humans. It provides a truly wonderful and elegant "common language" with which to explore our contributions to the team.
Certainly in some cultures where the "face saving" dynamic may be stronger, having conversations around strengths and allowable weaknesses can take a little longer to get to (and must handled with greater sensitivity). The behaviours are certainly present though, and helping or hindering the team just as they would in a more open culture. Identifying and working with them has equal and sometimes even greater value in these cultures. An excellent, experienced and culturally aware facilitator is essential here.
Sabre has used this model around the world with international clients who originate from such diverse nationalities and cultures as America, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Japan, India, Pakistan, The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Vietnam, Belgium, Holland, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Mongolia and numerous others.
On every occasion, the model has served us well as a powerful tool for individual, team and leadership development irrespective of country or cultural origins.
Whilst some countries and cultures may have some overarching affinity with some team role styles at a high level (e.g. Tibetans with "Teamworker", Americans with "Shaper", Australians with "Resource Investigator", Germans with "Implementer") in the word's of Monty Python's character Brian "you're all individuals".
You'll find "kindred spirits" in Team Role terms everywhere.
Our Team Roles transcend national and cultural boundaries and can serve as a wonderful and culturally neutral source for exploring our "Human Commonality", and merely our "Team Role" variances. The strong office Plant or Resoruce Investigator in Karachi will drive their office Completer Finisher just as mad as the Plant or RI in Sydney will their CF.
In our workshops and leadership programmes we will often openly explore the contributions of great leaders from many countries and cultures (reflecting those of the participants), using Team Role terms.
And so what about Australia?
Well there is a healthy amount of our "cultural imprint" that was taken into account during the development of this model when Meredith Belbin brough it down-under in the late 70's and early 80's. Belbin Australia and our own Dr David Marriott assisted with some very early uses of the model at The Mt Eliza Management School and other locations in those early days.
Having said that, whilst we "Aussies" like to think we are very different, our preferred "Team Roles" will impact our teams just as those of our brothers and sisters in every corner of the globe will impact theirs, and they can all be measured and worked with just as effectively by using this model.
The increasing globalisation of business teams and multi-national flavour of decision-making and communications makes the use of a model like the Belbin model an incredibly valuable tool in the toolbox for any business leader and team.