Team Dynamics: 4-Stages Model Part 1

Written by Garrett Grega

You are supervising a new team.  How can you assess your team’s ability to succeed?  What do you need to do to achieve a high-performance team?  Over 15 years ago, I was introduced to the “Four Stages Model” of career development.  While simple in construct, the “Four Stages Model” provides a powerful tool in assessing not only your personal development but the development of your team.

The “Four Stages Model” is based on the research of Harvard Professors, Gene Dalton, and Paul Thompson.  The model describes four different stages of career development:  Dependent Contributor, Independent Contributor, Coach / Mentor, and Visionary.

Dependent Contributor
The first stage is Dependent Contributor.  In this stage of a career, you rely on the direction of others in your work assignments.  This is the learning stage where you develop the skills and knowledge necessary to perform your role in the organization.  All of the stages are independent of age or position status within an organization.  At any point in time, an employee may become a Dependent Contributor, even for a short period of time (e.g. once promoted, there is usually a ramp-up stage where you rely on the advice of others).

Independent Contributor
The second stage is that of Independent Contributor.  As an Independent Contributor, you understand the needs and objectives of the company and determine the activities required to meet those goals.  Independent Contributors accept responsibility for tasks and objectives within an organization.  Your goals are closely aligned with the company or department and are measured in results.  Independent Contributors are critical to the growth and success of a company.  An independent workforce properly aligned with the company objectives can provide a powerful engine for growth.

Questions to Consider 
Let’s examine the team make-up of Independent and Dependent contributors.  Can a team function at a high level if all of the people are considered Dependent Contributors?  How much time, as a supervisor, is needed to manage Dependent Contributors versus Independent Contributors?  If you were to leave your team for a two-week vacation, could your Dependent Contributors continue the success and progress the team has made over the last several months?

As a rule of thumb, you want to find ways to move all Dependent Contributors into Stage 2.  The faster your team reaches Stage 2, Independent Contributor, the higher performance level you will achieve.  Your time and effort as a supervisor is less in managing Stage 2 personnel versus managing Stage 1 personnel.  This will then free-up time for you to consider higher-level tasks that will advance your own career through Stage 3, Coach/Mentor, and into Stage 4, Visionary Leader.

In summary, one can use the 4-Stages Model of Career Development to help manage high-performance teams.  It is important to assess the number of Dependent Contributors and Independent Contributors on your team.  By focusing on leadership techniques that can move individuals from Stage 1 to Stage 2, you can free more time for you to focus on high-level strategic activities for the future.  In Part 2 of this series, we will examine the role of the Coach / Mentor and Visionary within an organization.

Download your “Strategic Planning Questionnaire” today and set your team on a path to success!

About the Author: Garrett Grega is a FocalPoint Certified Executive Coach with FocalPoint Business Coaching in Branchburg, New Jersey, where he specializes in reconnecting executives, business owners, and managers with their business passions! Garrett has his own passion for transforming high-potential employees into perennial all-stars.  He has 20+ years helping international companies launch new products and processes. He previously spent 8 years launching LED lighting products for various lighting companies.  His professional experience includes strategic planning, business development, marketing, and product development.  He can be reached at [email protected].  See more at 

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Comments on "Team Dynamics: 4-Stages Model Part 1"

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Michael Goldberg - Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Garrett, thanks for the post. Looking forward to your insight about the other 2-Stages - Coach/Mentor and Visionary!

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