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Heartbeat (UK TV Series) - summarizing the characters from a Belbin perspective

Remember that great British police drama TV series Heartbeat?  And those wonderful characters from that picturesque part of Britain – the Yorkshire moors?  Characters such as Oscar Blaketon, the unforgettable Claude Jeremiah Greengrass and Bernie Scripps.  Knowingly or unknowingly each was portraying certain behavioural characteristics of Belbin® Team Roles.  Oscar Blaketon as the local Sergeant of police and then as the owner of the Aidensfield Arms village pub portrayed the character that was blunt, suspicious, challenging, hard-driving and tough.  These are the descriptors of the Shaper, a work style that can galvanize action but is prone to provocation and acerbity.


Then there is that lovable rogue – Claude Jeremiah Greengrass who is always thinking up ideas for living off his wits and making an easy quid.  Enterprising, inquisitive and processing an ability to seize opportunities Claude is always on the lookout for quick and easy money be it from a madcap money scheme, business venture or poaching game from Lord Ashfordly’s estate.  He plays the role of Resource Investigator who can think on his feet, develops contacts and exploits opportunities for at times ill-gotten gain. 


Finally there is Bernie Scripps, the Aidensfiled garage owner and part time mortician.    Bernie is a mild character, helpful and adaptable (albeit at times reluctantly) to his mate Greengrass’ opportunistic ideas and madcap escapades.  He plays the role of Teamworker, someone who is perceptive, fearful of conflict and indecisive.


So in summary


  • Oscar Blaketon’s Shaper Contributions…
  • Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. The drive and courage to overcome obstacles.
  • Allowable Weaknesses of the Shaper
  • Prone to provocation and offends people’s feelings.
  • Claude Jeremiah Greengrass’ Resource Investigator Contributions…
  • Extrovert, enthusiastic.  Explores opportunities and develops contacts.
  • Allowable weaknesses of the Resource Investigator
  • Over-optimistic and loses interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.
  • Bernie Scripts’ Teamworker Contributions…
  • Co-operative, mild, perceptive and averts friction.
  • Allowable Weaknesses of the Teamworker
  • Indecisive in crunch situations.


So did the wonderful writers and producers of Heartbeat know of the Belbin® model in crafting their characters? Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t – however in reality Oscar, Claude and Bernie are a classics example of Belbin® work behaviours at play.

The Belbin Completer Finisher Work Style

The Completer Finisher work style is Action oriented aligned with a great capacity for follow-through and fastidious attention to detail.  If there is a need for quality control in your business then the Completer Finisher will be a crucial member of the organization. 


Whereas the Implementer gets the task done, the Completer Finisher perfects and polishes, so much so that the task may not be completed on time!


The Completer Finisher is an anxious introvert, calm on the outside but a real “worry wart” on the inside.  Their motivation comes from within themselves and is self – sustaining.  No need for monetary inducements here!


The “allowable weakness” for this role is the reluctance to delegate – however this is “allowable” given the fact that anyone intent on ensuring that a task or project is absolutely flawless will not be happy in passing it on to others.


A “non-allowable weakness” is obsessive behavior as this can affect the group atmosphere, lower morale and lose the support of colleagues when it really matters.


The “do” and “don’t” in dealing with a Completer Finisher….


Importantly in communicating with the individual it is essential to make clear the nature of the priorities and the deadlines of any work, as the Completer Finisher will not “push back’ and will attempt to cover EVERY aspect of what is required.  In addition, it is important not to overload them or set unrealistic timelines as their anxious behavior could cause them to fall victim to stress.


Crucially, the business will experience errors if there is no Completer Finisher present.

Who is the Completer Finisher in your business?

Could your business use General Douglas MacArthur ?

Described as Inspiring, outrageous, brave, egotistical – a thundering paradox - Douglas MacArthur was one of only five men in U.S.history to have achieved the five-star rank of General of the Army.  He served in World Wars I and II and in the Korean War, and he is renowned for stating that “in war, there is no substitute for victory.”  In his biography of MacArthur “American Caesar” author William Manchester describes MacArthur as “arrogant and shy, the best of men and the worst of men, the most protean, most ridiculous, and most sublime” and that “he carried the plumage of a flamingo, could not acknowledge errors, and tried to cover up his mistakes with sly, childish tricks.”


So is there a way to summarise the individual that was MacArthur?  And if so, are we able to categorise behaviours of individuals in the workplace?  The answer is a resounding “yes”.  The behavioural footprint of MacArthur is that of a Shaper, one of nine clusters of behavior that can be seen in the workplace and based on research of close to 10 years by Dr R Meredith Belbin and his team at Henley Management College UK.  Dr Belbin’s research revealed that the difference between success and failure for a group or team was not dependant on factors such as intellect, but more on behavior – and his research team identified nine separate clusters of behavior, each of which formed distinct work contributions of which the Shaper is one.  Who is the Shaper in your business?


Shaper Contributions to a business


Shaper - Definition/Descriptor  - Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure.  The drive and courage to overcome obstacles.


At West Point military academy MacArthur often flouted academy rules and was behind a number of celebrated West Point pranks and came close to a premature end to his military career.  He once said that “it’s the orders you disobey that make you famous.”  In conflict zones he repeatedly and deliberately exposed himself to enemy snipers, and in the Korean War at the age of seventy he ordered his pilot to fly him in an unarmed plane through flack over the length of the Yalu river in Korea.  Yet he was the supreme military strategist implementing in the Pacific campaign in WW2 the doctrines of “island leapfrogging” and “triphibious warfare.” And he was extraordinarily brave and was decorated with 13 medals for bravery.  A Shaper is a natural leader, is very competitive and brings to a business a great injection of energy and urgency.  The Shaper makes his/her mark because they are achievers and are determined to find their way around red tape and obstacles and bring others along with them.


Shaper – Allowable Weaknesses (the price to be paid).  Prone to provocation. Offends people’s feelings.


Shapers are not afraid to be blunt and often come across as aggressive.  With a Shaper Boss productivity may be high however relationships and morale may suffer.


Shaper – Non-Allowable Weaknesses.  Inability to recover situation with good humour or apology.


MacArthur had difficulty in admitting mistakes.  General Dwight D. Eisenhower observed that MacArthur “had an obsession that a high commander must protect his image at all costs and must never admit he was wrong”.


Shapers – Here and Abroad, Past and Present

Sir Alex Ferguson, Wally Lewis, Steve Waugh, Sir Vivian Richards, Bakkies Botha, Lee Quan Yew, Margaret Thatcher, Dermot Brereton, Gordon Tallis, Julie Bishop, Kerry Packer, Kyle Sandilands, Paul Gallen, Clive Palmer, Gordon Ramsay

Do you have this person in your business ? The Shaper Work Style

Do you have this person in your business - The Belbin 'Implementer' Work Style

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