Move Your Career Forward by Recognizing 3 Types of Roles in Meetings

Paying attention to communication patterns in meetings can help your career move forward as you will understand more about someone's motivation by watching the role they take in meetings. People don't have the same role in every meeting. Their role in a meeting varies based on who else is in the meeting and its purpose. Here are the 3 types of roles:


Goal Focused Roles

These people want to move the meeting, task, or project forward, and they will keep the meeting on track. You will often hear them referring to the agenda or schedule, restating the meeting purpose, or mentioning the time.

Here are 4 types of goal-focused roles:

Leader - Sets and follows agenda. The leader can be a different person in every meeting, and the same person can be both a leader in one meeting and an attendee in another.

Time Keeper - Assists leader by focusing on time. A timekeeper can be someone who helps to keep the meeting focused. Sometimes this role is assigned, but it can also be someone impatient. Watch their body language to tell the difference.

Scribe - Takes & publishes notes, writes on board. There may be a designated scribe or a person who volunteers. If assigned the role, they may be seen as subordinate. If they assume the role, it may be an effort for them to exert power.

Organizer - Prepares & distributes info. The leader sometimes does this but may also assign this role to someone else.


Communication Focused Roles

These people focus on moving the conversation forward and sometimes in a different direction. Here are 4 types of communication focused roles:

Explainer - Helps clarify. The explainer likes to add context, background information, or further definitions. Some want to help people, and others are insecure about their position. You can often tell by the tone they use when explaining. Don't go to them for additional help if it is sarcastic or condescending.

Devil's Advocate - The Devil's Advocate adds an opposing view. They either have a different viewpoint to share or an oppositional personality. Understand the difference between the two. If they repeat this behavior in most meetings, it is personality-based.

Innovator - The innovator is similar to the Devil's Advocate in that they may come up with new ideas. Their contribution is often a response to a call for ideas.

Conversation Drivers - Conversations Drivers like to move the conversation forward by asking questions. They can also be the ones that break awkward silences. Negatively, they can ask questions that open up a heated discussion or take the meeting in a different direction.

Relationship Focused Roles

These people look to create, strengthen, or destroy relationships (theirs or others). Here are 4 types of relationship-focused roles:


Encourager - The encourager supports the person speaking, and you will see them nod their heads, smile, or reinforce what the speaker is saying. Encouragers have or are looking to form an alliance with the speaker.

Antagonist - The antagonist adds conflict to the meeting. They can do this as a negative conversation starter or a Devil's Advocate. The antagonist is usually someone who is seeking to increase their power.

Follower - Followers mimic the leader or other group members, and sometimes they use the same expressions, hand gestures, or intonations. Followers can indicate alliances within the group, but they also identify members of the group who are (official or informal) leaders. Learn more about who has control in the group by watching who the followers follow.

Agreer - The agreer is different than the encourager, and they will agree with everything one person says. These people are typically close allies with the speaker or want a closer relationship with decision-makers.

Most people are a combination of different roles, but often one role dominates.

Start paying attention, and you will learn about different roles in your meetings, and you will also have a better understanding of co-workers' motivation.


When you understand your co-worker's motivation, you get insight into their goals. This information is useful when presenting your projects and ideas, as it is always easier to get buy-in when you show your co-workers how they will benefit.




Photo credits: Pixabay



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