Group Roles


1.Task Leader


3.Opinion Seeker

4.Opinion Giver



7.Devil’s Advocate or Central Negative

8.Energizer Typical Communication Behaviours

Behaviours include goal setting; agenda making; initiating, seeking, and evaluating ideas and opinions; regulating participation of members; summarizing discussions

Proposes new ideas or approaches to problem solving

Asks for evaluation of ideas under discussion; seeks values and beliefs of members

Offers own interpretation of ideas and proposals under discussion

Probes the value of ideas by raising concerns and questions for others to answer; does so without putting others on the defensive

Critically tests soundness of ideas, information, and inferences; reinforces good ideas; points out logical fallacies or inadequate evidence

Responds negatively to most ideas of group; generally counters view of majority with own ideas; often takes opposite point of view for sake of argument

Motivates group by dramatizing progress and trying to stimulate productive effort; makes upbeat comments and pushes group to do its best work


9.Socio-Emotional Leader



12.Tension Releaser

13.HarmonizerUsually most well-liked member of group; listens, encourages others, and strives to maintain group harmony

Follows orders carefully and does assigned tasks or routine chores no one else wants to do; goes along with group consensus

Shows acceptance of others’ ideas and praises their efforts; engages in active listening; shows understanding; serves as sounding board

Breaks ice and manages conflict by using well-timed humour or changing discussion topic

Mediates disagreements between members by emphasizing importance of getting along; tries to play down differences




16.Gatekeeper and Expediter


18.Group ObserverPerforms several procedural roles in an effort to manage overall traffic flow of group interaction; keeps group on focus and aware of procedural options

Helps group clarify its goals, establish a manageable agenda, summarize its progress, and keep moving forward

Manages flow of interaction by encouraging quieter members and curtailing talkative ones; may also be primary contact person for group between meetings and between group and external groups or supervisors

Keeps a written record of all major ideas, proposals, decisions, and rationales behind those decisions; makes record available to group as necessary; may assist group deliberation by making previous record visible during discussion (on board or easel)

Makes mental (or written) notes concerning group process (roles and rules, norms, and other routines); offers feedback and suggestions for improvement





22.Recognition Seeker

23.Help Seeker

24.Special Interest Pleader

25.Joker or ClownPuts others on defensive by criticizing or taking credit for their ideas; inhibits quieter members and instigates conflict with more assertive members

Tries to control flow of ideas and content of discussion; manipulates others into submissionActs stubborn and contrary usually; prolongs decision making by foot-dragging and nit-picking about procedure

Tries to gain the group’s attention by boasting and recounting own accomplishments; needs to be centre of attention

Expresses feelings of inadequacy or apologizes for quality of work in an attempt to gain sympathy or reassurance

Tries to maneuver group outcomes so that they favour interests of some other group he/she represents; brings a hidden agenda or bias to discussion

Uses excessive and often inappropriate humour to divert group from its task

Source: Jesen D.J. & Chilberg C.C. (1991) Small Group Communication: Theory and Practice. Wadsworth, Inc.: USA. p. 91-94