We are what we repeatedly do.

— Aristotle

As a bridge into the topic of style, you may want to ask participants to predict how a co-worker would behave in a given situation. For example, participants could be asked to predict the way a co-worker would behave if he or she were put in charge of a project. Perhaps the co-worker would leap into action in order to set an example for others. Or perhaps he or she would first outline a procedure for others to follow. Participants’ predictions are likely to prove accurate because they have become familiar with certain patterns in the other person’s behavior. These patterns represent the other person’s behavioral style.

Studies of personality style date back at least as far as 1914, when Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, first published his famous study, Psychological Types. Since then, many other researchers have examined style (e.g., Bolton & Bolton, 1984, and Merril & Reid, 1981). They agree on one point: While each individual is unique, certain commonalities can be used to describe and assess everyone’s personality style. In fact, many researchers describe style in terms of two dimensions, although the choice of dimensions tends to vary from one researcher to another.

The dimensions used throughout all of HRDQ’s style assessments are assertiveness and expressiveness (Alessandra and Hunsaker, 1980). Assertiveness measures the degree to which a person tries to influence other people’s thoughts and actions. Expressiveness measures the degree to which a person displays his or her emotions when interacting with others.

The Assertiveness and Expressiveness dimensions are indicated by two perpendicular lines. The result is four quadrants representing four distinct styles: Direct, Spirited, Considerate, and Systematic.

In the next post, we will explore the interplay between leadership theory and style to discover how it may impact individual and organizational performance.

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