May 8, 2015, posted by iq

The Five Roles in a Project Team

5 Roles in a Project Team

An agency is the perfect environment for big personalities to come together and create unique, insightful, performance-driven products. Most of the world sees the final, refined results, but behind the curtain is hours upon hours of teamwork. While this collaboration between roles can certainly be harmonious, it usually comes with a little friction too.

As the team works together, the project manager guides the workflow and conversation while encouraging collaboration, turning critiques into improvements and encouraging open-mindedness. The project manager works as a mediator, recognizing when people aren’t connecting and then building bridges between their ideas. So how do project managers create compromises and harmony? First, they get to know the various personalities of the team members.

The course Introduction to Project Management from Looking Glass Development defines the roles that people naturally fall into. It’s important that a project manager recognizes how these roles come together to make a well-rounded project team.


  • Creators are natural-born leaders. They’re the brainstormers and idea people who can’t be confined to boundaries.
  • They’re always thinking about what’s new, which means they can also lose focus as the project develops.


  • Less than 5% of people, the advancers are like coaches giving an inspiring locker room speech. They’re the motivators, charmers and sellers. The advancers can sell anyone on a new, cutting-edge idea that would seem too risky were it not for their confidence, while giving the team the drive it needs to perform well.


  • The refiners are the detail people, the logical ones, or as a creator (the antithesis of a refiner) might say, “the dream killers.” Refiners think through what actually needs to happen to implement an idea, and they tend to balance the creator by calling out what is and isn’t feasible.
  • The grounded approach the refiner takes is essential in order to successfully create a product.


  • Executors are often the most under recognized of all roles. They’re not leaders, nor are they creative or innovative. But they get things done. No matter how challenging, they’ll finish on time, and the product will be exactly what was communicated to them.
  • They execute so well that they prefer to tackle everything completely on their own, which means they can sometimes have trouble delegating work.

Project Manager

  • Project managers take on each role, knowing when one is lacking and taking it upon themselves to restore balance. They face the most harrowing challenge by encompassing the other roles while also working to empower other team members.

It is very important to have at least one person in all of these roles on a team. Here’s why:

When concepting a new project, there always seems to be at least one person (typically a creator) with a grand, large-scale idea that they claim will solve every problem in the world. While it might be an interesting concept, it’s then time for the refiner to chime in to check the concept: is this feasible? Or maybe the executor: is this something I can actually do? Even the advancer should ask: can we get people excited about this? Once all of these questions are addressed and accounted for, that’s when a project really comes together.

As the project progresses, the executor implements the team’s idea. Though once the creator’s interest wanes, they’ll need some encouragement from the advancer to power through. The refiner thinks ahead, anticipating the team’s best plan of attack for any changes, and the project manager keeps a watchful eye on the team to maintain a healthy balance.

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