So what is Michael Scott’s (from the Office) Social Style?

You can’t hand everyone you meet a Social Style’s test.  So, for those you have to work with how do you figure it out?  For someone you know well or have observed often it isn’t that hard to answer yes/no to each of the characteristics and roll up the score.

So for Michael

Analytical (Michael’s Score = 1 out of 7):

  • Likes organization and structure (no)
  • Dislikes involvement (no)
  • Asks specific questions (no)
  • Prefers objective, task-oriented, intellectual  (no)
  • Wants to be right, so collects much data (no)
  • Works slowly, precisely, and alone (no)
  • Seeks security and self-actualization (yes)

Driver (Michael’s Score = 3 out of 7):

  • Decisive in action and decision making (no)
  • Likes control; dislikes inaction (no)
  • Prefers maximum freedom to manage self and
    others (yes)
  • Cool, independent, and competitive with others (yes)
  • Low tolerance for feelings, attitudes, and advice of
    others (no)
  • Works quickly and impressively alone (no)
  • Seeks esteem and self-actualization (yes)
  • Has good administrative skills (no)

Amiable (Michael’s Score = 6 of 7):

  • Slow in making decisions or taking actions (yes)
  • Likes close, personal relationships (yes)
  • Dislikes interpersonal conflict (yes)
  • Supports and actively listens to others (yes)
  • Weak in goal setting and self-direction (yes)
  • Seeks security and identification with a group (yes)
  • Has good counseling and listening skills (no)

Expressive (Michael’s Score = 8 of 8):

  • Spontaneous actions and decisions (yes)
  • Likes involvement (yes)
  • Exaggerates and generalizes (yes)
  • Tends to dream and get others caught up in those
    dreams (yes)
  • Jumps from one activity to another (yes)
  • Works quickly and excitedly with others (yes)
  • Seeks esteem and group identification (yes)
  • Has good persuasive skills (yes)

So, in Michael’s case he is an Amiable Expressive. He has two dominate traits and two highly suppressed traits. The best possible way to create a connection with Michael is through recognition and security.  The flip side of this is the worst way to relate to Michael is through data/facts and task completion/goals.  You can see the conflict with his boss Jan when she presses these points with him.  Most people aren’t as “pegged” as Michael is and that’s why he is so easy to analyze; however, it is good practice to try and diagnose the people you work with the most – especially your boss and subordinates.

First Things First

Before you can improve your leadership capability you need to understand yourself.  If you are already a leader in your work or community you already have developed some leadership skills.  Something is working.  However, I would bet that at times you said to yourself “gosh, I didn’t see that coming.”  Whenever something happens you don’t expect learn to look inward and avoid blaming the other.  It may entirely be the other persons fault; however, that really doesn’t matter – you are the leader and you are responsible for the situation and fixing it.  So – look inside.

One of the most useful tools I ever ran into was the identification of social styles.  There are many versions of the same theme but basically people have one to two dominate modes of operation (out of four total).  They are:

  • Driver
  • Expressive
  • Analytical
  • Amiable

These are comfort zones.  When not thinking about it or when stressed people will act their style.  There are no good nor bad here just tendencies.  However, when people have different natural styles there is the opportunity for conflict and misunderstanding.

When faced with conflict people within their style will tend to act the following way:

  • Driver – Aggressive, rude, abrupt
  • Expressive – Unpredictable, emotional
  • Analytical – Whining, sarcastic, negative
  • Amiable – Likely to be ” passive”, lack conviction, avoidance

Sound like people you know?  Which one are you?  So, knowing this –  and if you knew the social style everyone  –  how could you approach them differently?  Each of these styles also comes with a basic need.  You can think of it as an approach.  If you want to lower their stress you can approach them recognizing their basic need:

  • Driver – To be in control
  • Expressive – Recognition
  • Analytical – To be correct
  • Amiable – Security

So, the best way to get an Analytical upset is to question their accuracy.  The best way to rouse a Driver is challenge their authority.  The best way to upset an Amiable is to threaten their security.  Finally, to upset an Expressive you deny their recognition.  This is the first clue to “I didn’t see that coming.”

You and your team can take test to see where they fit into the 4 styles.  You will really enjoy watching people understand why things got out of whack at times.  More importantly, everyone will learn more about each other and how to approach them if it may be a stressful discussion.

There are many versions of this test and some are free as included in this link.

This can become as complex or simple as you want to make it but I prefer to keep it simple enough to be remembered and acted upon “on the fly” as you encounter stressful discussions with people.