As a team leader, your job is to harness the potential of each member of your team. Communication is a big part of achieving the vision of a happy, productive and highly effective team.

The purpose of the social style model is to help you know your team and yourself better in order to improve your ability to communicate with each other and avoid misunderstandings.

Social style is a theory created by two psychologists –Roger Reid and David Merrill, who posited that everyone has natural behaviours and a preferred style of communication. This model uses two dimensions, assertiveness and responsiveness, to identify four social styles on the quadrant. Social style is based on the perception of one's behaviour by others, and there is no correlation between social style and personality.


Assertiveness is the way in which you are perceived to influence the thoughts and actions of others. Some people tend to be more “ask assertive” while others tend to be more “tell assertive.”

Ask vs Tell Assertive

Responsiveness is the way in which you are perceived to express feelings when communicating with others. Some people tend to prefer focusing initial communications on tasks. These people are “task responsive.” Others prefer to focus on the people working on the task - they are “people responsive”.

People vs Task Responsive

If you plot your responsiveness and assertiveness against those two dimensions you find your style: Analytical, Driver, Amiable or Expressive, as shown in the diagram below.

People are generally not good observers of their own behaviour, and therefore, the perception of your team might be the best way to measure your style. So make this a team activity to get the most out of it!

People vs Task Responsive

There is no right or wrong style — no one style is more successful than another and no one style is better suited for a leadership position than another. In contrast, the ability to adapt to different styles is associated with high performance.

People are more comfortable interacting with those with a similar styles to themselves. That's why you can communicate more effectively if you learn how to be versatile. In other words, learn how to change your behaviour to match the person you are communicating with.

Now that you have an understanding of the social styles theory, and you sat down with your team and determined where each one of you belong in the quadrant, you can start focusing on how to make this understanding help you communicate better.

Don’t try to shoehorn people into the four boxes or expect them to behave a certain way because of their style.

On the contrary, use your understanding of their social style to alter your own behaviour as you communicate with them.

Make an effort to adjust your assertiveness and responsiveness behaviours, and then observe your efforts. Did your efforts to modify your behaviour have the intended effect? If not, re-examine your behaviour.

Where do you most of your team members fall in the social model quadrant? How much diversity is in your team? Share your social style with us in the comments below!