What Is The Social Style Model? The Social Style Model In A Nutshell

Social style as a concept is based on the work of industrial psychologists David Merrill and Roger Reid in the early 1960s. Merrill and Reid wanted to determine whether they could predict managerial, sales, and leadership performance based on how people behaved in social situations. The social style model is a means of categorizing people based on their personality traits and interactions with others in the workplace.

Understanding the social style model

Through the research, the pair discovered that the behavior of an individual could be measured along two continua:

  • Assertiveness – or the degree to which an individual prefers to ask questions over making statements. High assertiveness is associated with making demands, while low assertiveness is associated with making requests.
  • Responsiveness – referring to the way people express emotions. Responsiveness is positively correlated with emotional expressiveness and empathy.

The social style model itself was later developed by TRACOM Group, a leader in corporate soft skill training programs and social intelligence. True to its origins, the model maintains a focus on the outer behavior of the individual and not on their internal thoughts or processes.

Understanding the social style model means managers can treat each of their subordinates as individuals, maximizing their unique strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. Social styles also provide clarity on the particular way an employee prefers to work. This reduces workplace dissatisfaction and conflict and increases team cohesion.

The four social styles of the social style model

Plotting the two dimensions of assertiveness and responsiveness on a grid yields four different social styles:

  1. Driver (high assertiveness/low responsiveness) – drivers are less worried about how others react to them and more worried about getting results, which means they can be more independent and candid. Their pragmatic nature means they tend to be poor collaborators and can upset others with their words or actions.
  2. Expressive (high assertiveness/high responsiveness) – these individuals are articulate, intuitive, creative, enthusiastic, extroverted, and visionary. They have highly developed persuasive skills and can motivate others. However, their high assertiveness means they are poor listeners and easily become distracted and impatient. They also fear being rejected or ignored by others.
  3. Amiable (low assertiveness/high responsiveness) – people with an amiable social style are comfortable sharing their feelings with others and are generally more agreeable. Without an innate need to lead, they are steady and reliable workers. However, this passiveness can lead to conflict avoidance, carelessness, low motivation, and a fear of change.
  4. Analytical (low assertiveness/low responsiveness) – these individuals are described by others are quiet, logical, reserved, and cautious. To a greater degree than the other styles, analytical people keep their emotions in check and communicate only when they feel the need to do so. They are task-oriented and prefer to work by themselves, with their prudent and systematic nature ideally suited to complex analytical work. Under stress, however, analytical individuals can withdraw, become overly critical, or hesitate in making important decisions.

Key takeaways:

  • The social style model is a means of categorizing people based on their personality traits and interactions with others in the workplace. The model is based on the work of psychologists David Merrill and Roger Reid in the early 1960s.
  • The social style model suggests the outward behavior of individuals in a social workplace setting falls along two continua. The first is assertiveness, or the extent to which an individual asks questions or makes demands. The second is assertiveness, which is positively correlated with emotional responsiveness and empathy.
  • The social style model represents assertiveness and responsiveness on a grid with four quadrants: driver, expressive, amiable, and analytical. Each quadrant represents a predominant social style that can be used in employee management.

Other Business Matrices

Skill Will Matrix

The skill will matrix was created by behavioral scientist Paul Hersey and business consultant Ken Blanchard in the 1970s. The skill will matrix is a tool used to assess the skill level and willingness of an individual to perform a specific task based on four key profiles: Guide (high will/low skill), Delegate (high will/high skill), Direct (low will/low skill), Excite (low will/high skill).

SFA Matrix

The SFA matrix is a framework that helps businesses evaluate strategic options. Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes created the SFA matrix to help businesses evaluate their strategic options before committing. Evaluation of strategic opportunities is performed by considering three criteria that make up the SFA acronym: suitability, feasibility, and acceptability.

Hoshin Kanri X-Matrix

The Hoshin Kanri X-Matrix is a strategy deployment tool that helps businesses achieve goals over the short and long term. Hoshin Kanri is a method that seeks to bridge the gap between strategy and execution. Strategic objectives are clearly defined and the goals of every level of the organization are aligned. With everyone moving in the same direction, process coordination and decision-making ability are strengthened.

Kepner-Tregoe Matrix

The Kepner-Tregoe matrix was created by management consultants Charles H. Kepner and Benjamin B. Tregoe in the 1960s, developed to help businesses navigate the decisions they make daily, the Kepner-Tregoe matrix is a root cause analysis used in organizational decision making.

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a tool that helps businesses prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance, named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States from 1953 to 1961, the matrix helps businesses and individuals differentiate between the urgent and important to prevent urgent things (seemingly useful in the short-term) cannibalize important things (critical for long-term success).

Decision Matrix

A decision matrix is a decision-making tool that evaluates and prioritizes a list of options. Decision matrices are useful when: A list of options must be trimmed to a single choice. A decision must be made based on several criteria. A list of criteria has been made manageable through the process of elimination.

Action Priority Matrix

An action priority matrix is a productivity tool that helps businesses prioritize certain tasks and objectives over others. The matrix itself is represented by four quadrants on a typical cartesian graph. These quadrants are plotted against the effort required to complete a task (x-axis) and the impact (benefit) that each task brings once completed (y-axis). This matrix helps assess what projects need to be undertaken and the potential impact for each.

TOWS Matrix

The TOWS Matrix is an acronym for Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Strengths. The matrix is a variation on the SWOT Analysis, and it seeks to address criticisms of the SWOT Analysis regarding its inability to show relationships between the various categories.

GE McKinsey Matrix

The GE McKinsey Matrix was developed in the 1970s after General Electric asked its consultant McKinsey to develop a portfolio management model. This matrix is a strategy tool that provides guidance on how a corporation should prioritize its investments among its business units, leading to three possible scenarios: invest, protect, harvest, and divest.

BCG Matrix

In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Growth Matrix

In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Ansoff Matrix

You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

Connected Leadership Frameworks

Leadership styles encompass the behavioral qualities of a leader. These qualities are commonly used to direct, motivate, or manage groups of people. Some of the most recognized leadership styles include Autocratic, Democratic, or Laissez-Faire leadership styles.
Transformational leadership is a style of leadership that motivates, encourages, and inspires employees to contribute to company growth. Leadership expert James McGregor Burns first described the concept of transformational leadership in a 1978 book entitled Leadership. Although Burns’ research was focused on political leaders, the term is also applicable for businesses and organizational psychology.
The theory was developed by psychologist Edwin Locke who also has a background in motivation and leadership research. Locke’s goal-setting theory of motivation provides a framework for setting effective and motivating goals. Locke was able to demonstrate that goal setting was linked to performance.
Harvard Business School professor Dr. John Kotter has been a thought-leader on organizational change, and he developed Kotter’s 8-step change model, which helps business managers deal with organizational change. Kotter created the 8-step model to drive organizational transformation.
The Value Disciplines Model was developed by authors Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema. In their model, the authors use the term value discipline to represent any method a business may use to differentiate itself. The Value Disciplines Model argues that for a business to be viable, it must be successful in three key areas: customer intimacy, product leadership, and operational excellence.
Andy Grove, helped Intel become among the most valuable companies by 1997. In his years at Intel, he conceived a management and goal-setting system, called OKR, standing for “objectives and key results.” Venture capitalist and early investor in Google, John Doerr, systematized in the book “Measure What Matters.”
Tipping Point Leadership is a low-cost means of achieving a strategic shift in an organization by focusing on extremes. Here, the extremes may refer to small groups of people, acts, and activities that exert a disproportionate influence over business performance.

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