Team Building Roles are those based upon relationships. It is the Power of Influence.

In keeping with the sports metaphor, there are at least six Team Building Roles that an effective SuperVisor will play:

Team Building Roles of a SuperVisor

Team Player
Water Boy


The coach is the mentor and the director of operations. He has the Super Vision – the ability to see the big picture, to know the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and the strategic vision to direct the plays. He sees things the players themselves may not be able to see and leads the team accordingly. He hopes that the team players will get the big picture, and it’s his duty to try to pass it on to them, but he can’t count on it. They may not yet have the maturity to see things from a larger perspective.


The referee sets the boundaries and enforces the rules. As long as a player is in-bounds and abiding by the rules of the game (policy), he can play freely within that framework. But if he goes out of bounds or violates policy, the referee has to call foul and assess a warning or a penalty. If the offense is bad enough, he may remove the player from the game. SuperVisors do this, too. But the key is to clearly define the rules and the boundaries, then give your “players” as much freedom to play the game as possible.


Feedback is essential to good performance. A player needs to be able to look at the scoreboard during the game to see how the team is doing. But the feedback has to be immediate – not at the end of the game and certainly not at the end of the season. There’s nothing inherently wrong with annual evaluations, although the benefits of annual evaluations are being challenged more and more. But if that is the ONLY feedback you are giving during the year, your players will be demotivated.

Take at look what happens to morale when annual evaluation time rolls around. We have been taught that because employees want constructive feedback, because they like being told about their short-comings and recommendations for improvement, morale should soar. But generally it is just the opposite. An effective SuperVisor gives constructive feedback on an almost daily basis to keep the morale and motivation of the team high. As we will see in the Dynamic of Change, morale and performance are intricately linked together.


As hard as it might be for some of you to imagine yourselves in mini-skirts and pom-poms, your role is also to cheer the team on – to celebrate the victories of the team and encourage the players to peak performance. My Chief of Staff, Barney Barnes, used to call himself the CEO at the Sheriff’s Office – the Chief Encouragement Officer – because he understood the importance of this role.

Think about a football game where a team member fumbles the ball. The cheerleaders don’t blast him publicly for losing possession. They regroup and yell “Go defense!” Now, it’s the coach’s role to deal with the problem of the fumble. But here’s the key as it relates to supervision and leadership: resist beating your players up for well-intentioned mistakes. Ask yourself, “Did he INTEND to fumble the ball?” Hopefully not. If the fumble was intentional, you have a ‘hole ‘nuther problem that needs to be dealt with through progressive discipline (which we will explore later in the Dynamic Leadership series when we get to the Dynamic of Discipline). If the fumble was a well-intentioned mistake then the player should be restored and the error corrected for the future just like we discussed in the Organizational Role of Risk-Taker.

Team Player

Every now and then, a good SuperVisor needs to get out on the playing field. Not ALL the time, but SOME of the time. If you are out there ALL the time, then why am I paying you extra? Remember the mission statement for a SuperVisor: your job is to “Accomplish pre-determined objectives through OTHERS.”

But from time to time, show your players that you are not afraid to get back in the game and help them out. It might be performing something small like directing traffic at a wreck scene, backing them up on a car stop, or shagging an alarm call. But there is something powerful and encouraging about seeing the leader out there on the playing field. I always made it a point to show up unexpectedly in the field and find a way to help or encourage a deputy.  However, the higher you are on the organizational ladder, the less time you will have to get out on the field. First-line SuperVisors should be out there the most, but higher-level SuperVisors must not neglect this role.

Water Boy

For years, I taught Dynamic Leadership with only five Team Building Roles. Then it dawned on me that I may have overlooked one of the most important ones. The Water Boy takes care of the needs of the team – he is the servant.

This principle of leadership was driven home to me during a 36-hour manhunt for a bank robber who had “posted a bush bond” in a big swamp along the Edisto River near Dorchester County. It was hot, South Carolina Summertime and I took the responsibility to take water to my men who were on the perimeter. My intent was not to do anything special. I was just trying to meet a need and be useful. But one of my lieutenants later told me that I had taught him a powerful lesson in leadership by taking him a bottle of water. After that, I made it a point to ALWAYS be the one to take the water, pick up the pizza, or otherwise try to meet the needs of my team.

If you think about it, servant leaders have always been the ones that we look up to throughout history. Consider George Washington or Stonewall Jackson, two of my favorites. In fact, the greatest Leader who ever lived said, “I came not to be served, but TO serve” and, “He who would be the greatest among you must become the servant of all.”

An effective leader will play all of these Team Building Roles on a regular basis. You are, at various times, the Coach, the Referee, the Score Keeper, the Cheer Leader, the Team Player, and the Water Boy. The one thing you are NOT is a spectator. So get in the game!

About the Author

One Response to Team Building Roles

  1. […] upward slope as your team accomplishes more and more of its pre-determined objectives. Your Team-Building Roles are the key to encouraging your people during times of […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Sheriff Ray Nash

Sheriff Ray Nash

Free Training Resources

The Benefits of Good Character
49 Character Qualities
10 Virtues of a Law Officer
Police Dynamics Intro Video


Subscribe via Email

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Follow on Twitter

What Law Enforcement and Community Leaders Are Saying About Police Dynamics

“A few years ago, we brought the Police Dynamics program to the Cincinnati Police Division and were most impressed with the quality of the training and richness of the program.”
Mike Daly
Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

"I have attended training conducted by the Police Dynamics Institute in the past and know Ray Nash both personally and professionally. They have my whole-hearted endorsement…"
Sheriff Larry Williams
Orangeburg, SC

"I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this website. I was introduced to your video on the Dynamics of Authority through my father who is a police chaplain for the FBI and local law enforcement agencies here in Las Cruces. I have taught and applied the Dynamics model to my students when I was a teacher, and now to my department as a fire fighter."
Nathan Carr
Las Cruces Fire Dept.

“One of the greatest seminars I have ever attended in the 33 years I’ve been a Deputy.”
Walter Bolinger
Marion County Sheriff’s Office, IN

"I was so impressed by the (Police Dynamics) program that I purchased your video tape series. All Grand County Sheriff’s Employees subsequently viewed the tapes, and I have also mandated that all new Sheriff’s Employees watch it as well."
Glen Trainor
Grand County Sheriff’s Office

"It is with much enthusiasm that I encourage senior law enforcement executives to make attending the Police Dynamics seminar a key training priority for your agency."
DeWayne Beggs
Cleveland County, OK
former 2nd VP - National Sheriff's Association

"I am convinced of the benefits of the Police Dynamics program."
Jerry Martin
Delores County, CO
former Pres - County Sheriff's of Colorado

"Honestly, I’ve not been more impressed with a police training that I’ve attended in the last 20 years..."
Tom McClain
Chief of Police
Willard, MO

"I am a firm believer that Police Dynamics and Character First! equip the men and women that work for the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Office to do their job and do it better."
John Whetsel
Oklahoma County, OK

"If you believe that good character is an essential element in policing, you will want to send your key staff to Police Dynamics."
David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"This course was one of the best training sessions that I’ve been through. This concept will benefit me and the staff in my division."
Police Dynamics participant

[We have] more awareness of the preventative benefits of a character initiative as opposed to the typical reactive approach to situations. There is a sense of excitement by organization leaders as they begin to see a change in their culture. Bob Powell
Character Council
Fort Collins, CO

"[The Police Dynamics training] brings us closer together, more like a family … it reminds us of why we’re out there and what it’s about.”
Captain John Decker
Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, SC

"This class gave me the vocabulary that I have been looking for to praise and motivate my employees."
Police Dynamics participant

"We’ve built a much better relationship with each other. We’ve seen a decrease in complaints. We’ve become a family instead of a place to work."
Sheriff Howie Godwin
Highlands County, FL

“This shows us a new approach to recognize employees’ character traits - and to acknowledge them for those good traits versus, 'You did an excellent job…' It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"The Police Dynamics training that Ray Nash brought teaches the things that are at the core of being a good police officer – being trustworthy, being of good character…"
Sgt. Julie Shearer
Cincinnati Police Div.

“In the Police Dynamics training seminar, the officers are able to set a standard in their own lives of the kind of character they want to see in their community."
Chaplain Carl Nelson
Colorado Springs Police Department

"Character is the solution to the real problem in our community of crime. Character supplies the answer."
Hon. F.A. Schad
Former Judge
Burleson, TX

“I want you to know that my international and national career was very much influenced by your lessons and knowing you was of paramount importance for my job and career. Many Romanian police officers are grateful to you and to Character training."
Teofil Parasca
Assistant Superintendent
Arad County Police

"I would like to work more toward management by principles instead of rules – with an emphasis on character and guiding principles."
Chief Lynn Williams
Chickasha, OK

“We need to return to our basic character traits that made this country great. Ray Nash has the program to do it."
Police Dynamics participant

"This shows us a new approach to recognize those employees’ character traits and to recognize and acknowledge them for those good traits versus, “You did an excellent job…” It’s some fresh ideas in an area that we probably all need to change."
Major P.D. Taylor
Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

"In the three years prior to our character initiative, we had 42 labor and employee grievances, and seven different lawsuits. In the three years since we put the character initiative in place, we have had two grievances and no lawsuits from employees. I think that, in and of itself, is significant."
Rodney Ray
City Manager
Owasso, OK

"Absolutely fantastic! It reminded me of why I wanted to be a peace officer."
Police Dynamics participant

"the finest value-added training anywhere."
Sheriff David Williams
Tarrant County, TX

"We continue to benefit from your teaching and hire with a strong emphasis on character."
Chief Tom McClain
Willard, MO

"Once again, I feel absolutely indebted to you for the program you have developed and your desire to change the world through the building of better law enforcement officers."
Glen P. Trainor
Grand County, CO

"Sheriff Ray Nash is an internationally recognized speaker that you and your staff will learn powerful principles from, while enjoying the lesson."
DeWayne Beggs
Cleveland County, OK

"Very comprehensive, a great resource manual for the future. The seminar was dynamic in every way. What a great resource for people throughout their day-to-day routines.”
Doug Carter
Indiana State Police