Is there a word that can mean a person who keeps a group in good shape? For instance, this person (also a member of the group) makes sure group members are turning in their work on time, and emails group members to make sure everything is done properly. I don't feel like the words 'facilitator' and 'coordinator' work because it's not an official role, just a role this person kind of ends up acting as.

Example: I ended up acting as a ______ to help keep our group in tiptop shape.

  • taskmaster - "a person who supervises rigorously the work of others" (Dictionary.com)
    – DyingIsFun
    Oct 16, 2016 at 19:45
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    These duties are often assigned to a team leader in US businesses, though that term also tends to be "official".
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 16, 2016 at 19:47
  • 2
    For single-word-requests you must include an example sentence. Can you add one? Oct 16, 2016 at 19:51
  • 1
    De facto supervisor. Oct 16, 2016 at 20:53
  • 3
    "I ended up acting as a" - already implies that this is not an official role, since the person is only "acting as". So even if an official term is used after this, it would imply an unofficial role IMO.
    – MrWhite
    Oct 17, 2016 at 11:00

15 Answers 15


If the person you described is well liked among the group members, you could call him or her a self-appointed administrator.

I ended up acting as a self-appointed administrator in order to help keep our group in tiptop shape.

If the person is not well liked among the group members, I guess you could call him or her a self-appointed ramrod, a ramrod being a strict taskmaster or disciplinarian.

I ended up acting as a ramrod who whipped our little group into shape.

Other possibilities with varying valences:

  • cheerleader

  • snoopervisor (my neologism)

  • busybody

  • organizer

  • proctor

  • monitor

  • checker

  • a jack of all trades (trades would be a kind of synonym for the various tasks you took upon yourself)

  • motivator

  • overseer

  • the responsible party

  • the go-to person

  • drill sergeant

  • de facto supervisor

  • volunteer

  • 3
    One a personal note, I'd wince if I heard someone describe themselves as a self-appointed administrator. Echoes of overbearing dictator/manager spring to mind.
    – Vix
    Oct 17, 2016 at 2:57
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    Do you need the words "self-appointed" in that phrase when it is already prefixed with "I ended up acting as" - they would seem to be saying the same thing?
    – MrWhite
    Oct 17, 2016 at 10:54
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    I'm not too sure about ramrod, it's not a word I've heard in any regular usage and especially in the context of 'whipping into shape' could be misconstrued...
    – Paddy
    Oct 17, 2016 at 15:37
  • @w3d: Good point. "Self-appointed" does seem redundant. Thanks. Don Oct 17, 2016 at 16:36
  • @Paddy: I haven't heard "ramrod" in a long time. I seem to remember a TV show from my childhood ("Rawhide"), and actor Clint Eastwood played the character of "Rowdy Yates." Rowdy was the ramrod for Gil Favor, the character who was the boss of the cattle drive. Yes, "ramrod" could very well be misconstrued, and it definitely has a negative connotation! Don Oct 17, 2016 at 16:39

This is not a single word, but you can minimally modify your context to fit it:

take (over/up) the reins

to take control of something, especially an organization or a country

Someone who takes the reins is usually not an official leader, but assumes an informal leadership role of their own accord.

In your context:

I ended up taking the reins to help keep our group in tiptop shape.


Two possibilities, albeit not single words, are de facto team leader and de facto supervisor.

From Dictionary.com:

de facto: in fact; in reality

For all intents and purposes, persons such as you describe are carrying out the role of team leader or supervisor. Even though they don't have this title officially, they act, and are treated by their coworkers, as if they did.

Of these possibilities, de facto team leader appears to fit best.

Your example:

I ended up acting as a de facto team leader to help keep our group in tiptop shape.


perhaps catalyst

2: an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action

I ended up acting as a catalyst to help keep our group in tiptop shape.

I think this would be a good choice if you are trying to avoid the implication of a leadership role.


Perhaps coach or unofficial coach -- someone who provides direction, guidance and encouragement as needed.


The single-word term you may be looking for in this case is foreman, forewoman, or foreperson.


It's an official term (opposed to your connotation for "facilitator" and "coordinator") with uses in legal proceedings and general workplaces. A foreperson may be responsible for the well-being of a group, but also may have the same duties as other group members.

Hope this helps.


I ended up playing the role of project manager to help keep our group on track.


I ended up acting as a housekeeper, to help keep our group in tiptop shape.

  • To combine two answers - "de facto project manager"
    – stannius
    Oct 17, 2016 at 17:21

From sports, captain (or team captain) might work. You're still a player on the team with the usual responsibilities, but you're also somewhat responsible for the overall team.

The analogy holds well because sports teams usually have a coach in an official role above the team.


You could also end up acting as a shepherd.

  1. a person who protects, guides, or watches over a person or group of people.

(from dictionary.com, as linked).


On the positive spin of https://english.stackexchange.com/a/353754/126251, I propose:

  • [flag/standard] bearer

    I ended up acting as the flag bearer to help keep our group in tiptop shape.

Figurehead being inspired from a bust you might mount on the front of a ship, 'a nominal leader or head without real power'. Has slight cynical connotations, best used with a slight smirk, rather tongue-in-cheek.

  • figurehead

    I ended up acting as a figurehead to help keep our group in tiptop shape.

Were it more along the lines of transformation:

  • change agent

    I ended up acting as a change agent in order to help our group excel.

In a humorous context:

  • mascot

    I took it upon myself to become the mascot of the group to help keep us in tiptop shape

And two which would be uncommon, though I would like to find an excuse to use:

  • proponent (of change)
  • reagent

I've heard "point-guard" used a lot in business settings. It's not the most cultured as a sports metaphor, but it evokes leadership without elevated rank or any overbearing disposition--you're part of the team, sweating with the team, but directing its efforts.


A facilitator is someone who engages in the activity of facilitation. They help a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to plan how to achieve these objectives; in doing so, the facilitator remains "neutral" meaning he/she does not take a particular position in the discussion.


Rather more poetic, and metaphorical than the other answers, but I might go for:

  • Sheepdog ("act as the sheepdog to chase them up and keep them together")
  • Glue ("act as the glue holding the team together")


  • Welcome to EL&U! We strive to provide objective and well-researched answers. This answer needs to be expanded by providing evidence. Take the Tour and see How to Answer for more. Oct 17, 2016 at 15:48

Team leader

Keep it simple.

Supporting info: wikipedia

A team leader is someone who provides guidance, instruction, direction and leadership to a group of other individuals (the team) for the purpose of achieving a key result or group of aligned results.


The shortest phrase that fits in your sentence is simply "lead" or "leader". Though the person does not have that job title they are effectively fulfilling that role. For a given software development group that role might move from person to person among a group of peers for any given project.

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