Kantor’s Four Player Model Through the Lens of CDT
The pioneering family systems therapist David Kantor developed a model of group dynamics that includes what he calls the Four Player Model (Isaacs, 1999). Kantor suggests that in any social system there are four primary roles that individuals perform: Moving, Following, Opposing and Bystanding.
Movers initiate. Without them, there is no direction. Followers support the current move. Without Followers, there is no completion. Opposers critique the move. Without Opposers, there is no correction. Bystanders are those who take a step back and ask if there is anything else the group should be focusing on. Without Bystanders, there is no perspective.
Each of us has a natural tendency to fall into some of these roles more than others. Kantor defines a healthy system as one where any individual is capable of engaging in any of the four roles at any time. In an unhealthy system, only certain individuals occupy certain roles. Hence unhealthy systems are more likely to get “stuck”.
What happens if we add the layer of Constructive-Developmental Theory to the Four Player Model? The grid below explores how each of Kegan’s three adult developmental stages might perform in Kantor’s four roles:
|Moving||Someone whose meaning-making is dependent on being in relationship with others would most likely shy away from being a Mover. At-risk for them would be the devastation of others not moving with them.||Someone whose decision-making is based on their own internal compass would most likely be comfortable advocating a new direction for a group. A limitation would be their bias towards directions that suit their own ideology.||A person who utilizes a multi-frame perspective should be adept at any of the four moves. He or she should be able to generate original ideas that would support moving. Such original thought should also equip them to oppose without feeling threatened by conflict. They should feel comfortable following when doing so is genuinely of benefit to the group. Finally, they should make ideal Bystanders because of their ability to regard the group from a variety of perspectives. Limitations of a 5th Order teammate might be their hesitancy to commit to any one direction because of being subject to the dialectic between points of view.|
|Following||The role of following should be natural for the Socialized Mind. Such a person might well encourage others to follow, as well.||A 4th Order thinker will be skeptical of moves that are against their own ideology. Bringing them along with the group will depend on giving them the space to arrive at their own decision on their own terms.|
|Opposing||Opposing would most likely be extremely difficult for a 3rd Order thinker. To do so flies in the face of mutuality. Furthermore, a 3rd Order thinker might also try to smooth-over any Mover/Opposer conflict within the group.||Self-Authored thinking would be ideal for opposing. Even if they agree with the Mover, they should be able to play Devil’s advocate because their sense of self is not subject to agreement.|
|Bystanding||Similar to opposing, bystanding will most likely be difficult for one whose thinking is embedded in relationships. To do so would require psychologically stepping outside of the local environment, something that would require them to literally “go out of their mind.”||Similar to Opposing, a 4th Order thinker should be well-suited to Bystanding, though biased by their own personal ideology when doing so.|
So what does all this mean? To me it suggests that the best team will have a diversity of developmental levels within it. A team of all Socialized Minds might be afraid to make any but the most basic moves while a team without any 3rd Order thinkers might be short on Followers. A team of Self-Authoring Minds might be at risk of never achieving consensus. A team of Self-Transforming Minds might be stuck Bystanding.