Behavioral Styles

Behavioral styles serve as the building blocks of human interaction, delineating the diverse ways in which individuals engage with the world and each other. By grasping the nuances of these patterns, one may cultivate a deeper understanding of interpersonal dynamics and foster more effective communication and collaboration.

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What Are Behavioral Styles?

Behavioral styles are recurring patterns of habits that can be observed in a variety of situations – reflecting how people interact with others and approach tasks. Essentially, they describe different ways that people tend to act, communicate, make decisions, and solve problems.

These styles serve as blueprints for interpreting human behavior, including their tendencies and preferences. From assertive and outgoing personas to more reserved and analytical dispositions, they encompass a spectrum of traits that shape interpersonal relationships and professional dynamics.

The Importance of Understanding Behavioral Styles

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.

Theodore Roosevelt

Understanding behavioral styles is fundamental for success in various aspects of life, both on a personal and organizational level.

Personal benefits

  • Improved communication

The first benefit has to do with the ability to gain insights into one’s interpersonal strengths and weaknesses. Whether you tend to be direct and concise or empathetic and persuasive, self-awareness in communication facilitates a better understanding of others. From that, you become better equipped to adapt your own way to suit different styles – such as providing detailed explanations for steady individuals or concise facts for more conscientious ones – which then leads to clearer comprehension and minimizes miscommunication.

  • Strengthened relationships

Recognizing diverse behavior styles fosters empathy and strengthens interpersonal bonds. By learning to appreciate perspectives beyond one’s own, individuals become more adept at anticipating potential conflicts and navigating them effectively.

Furthermore, being aware of behavioral differences allows for conflict resolution from the other person’s perspective, identifying triggers, and finding mutually agreeable solutions.

Self-awareness of one’s behavioral style aids in figuring out strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and blind spots. This lays the foundation for us to come up with strategies for self-improvement and change management.

For instance, if you recognize a lack of attention to detail as a deficit of yours, you may decide to implement strategies like note-taking and frequent check-ins with others to mitigate this shortcoming.

Organizational benefits

  • Enhanced decision making

Humans are not perfectly rational actors – our choices are influenced largely by emotions, biases, and cognitive limitations. Unfortunately, traditional strategy often overlooks these aspects – it assumes rational decision-making and perfect information, which is one main reason that gives rise to flawed strategies. Overconfidence or confirmation bias often skew decision-making towards specific choices, potentially overlooking better alternatives.

By incorporating insights from behavioral science, organizations may design strategies that nudge individuals and teams toward desired behaviors, thereby improving strategic outcomes.

Read more: 8 Characteristics of Decision Making

  • Workplace effectiveness

Understanding the diverse behavioral styles of team members enables organizations to leverage varied perspectives for problem-solving and building up a dynamic work environment. By tailoring their approaches to accommodate team members’ preferences (e.g. assigning detail-oriented tasks to Conscientious individuals and providing clear goals for Dominant ones), leaders may improve the effectiveness of task delegation, as well as foster productivity and engagement.

  • Better customer experience

At the same time, recognizing customer behavioral styles enables personalized interactions that cater to individual preferences. When tailoring customer experiences based on behavioral insights – such as enthusiastic greetings for Influence-oriented customers and data-driven recommendations for Conscientious customers, organizations reap the benefit of enhanced satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Improved business outcomes

Applying principles from behavioral science empowers businesses to shape customer choices, drive employee performance, and achieve strategic goals. By leveraging insights into human behavior, companies may gain a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic landscape, ultimately leading to improved business outcomes.

Types of Behavioral Styles: Models & Theories

Over time, with the constant evolution of the psychology field, numerous models for understanding behavioral styles have been emerging. According to them, human behavior can be classified into plenty of types – examples include amiable, analytical, expressive, driver, decision-making, etc.

One of the most commonly accepted frameworks is the DISC model. Developed by psychologist William Moulton Marston, it categorizes human behavior into four distinct styles:

  • Dominance (D): Characterized by those who are direct, decisive, and results-oriented, the Dominance style often manifests in leadership roles, where one takes charge and drives outcomes.
  • Influence (I): Reflecting enthusiasm, optimism, and a focus on building relationships, those who practice the Influence style thrive on effective communication and fostering rapport with others.
  • Steadiness (S): Marked by cooperation, patience, and attention to detail, the Steadiness style is synonymous with dependability and reliability in both personal and professional contexts.
  • Conscientiousness (C): Defined by analytical thinking, precision, and adherence to rules, Conscientious people are characterized by their structure and meticulousness in approaching tasks.

While the DISC model delineates distinct behavioral styles, it acknowledges the complexity of human personality by recognizing that people often exhibit a blend of these styles. Furthermore, the model emphasizes that no single type is inherently superior to others – the important thing is that one realizes their dominant style and its interaction with others.

Beyond the DISC model, there exist a myriad of other popular frameworks – including but not limited to:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): Drawing upon Carl Jung’s theories, the MBTI classifies individuals into 16 personality types based on cognitive functions and preferences.
  • The Big Five Personality Traits: This model identifies five broad personality factors – Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN) – each existing on a spectrum and influencing behavior across various contexts.
  • Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid: Focused on leadership styles, it analyzes the balance between task orientation and people orientation, delineating five leadership styles based on these dimensions.
  • Situational Leadership: Grounded in the premise that effective leadership should vary based on follower maturity levels, this theory advocates for leaders to adapt their style to match the developmental stage of their team members.
  • Others: Additional models such as Belbin Team Roles and Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument offer specialized insights into team dynamics and conflict resolution strategies.

behavioral styles

5 Dimensions of Behavioral Styles by LPI Profiling

Invented by Dr. Leonard Yong, the Leonard Personality Inventory (LPI) is a self-assessment tool that measures five dimensions of personality. These dimensions are believed to influence one’s behavioral style and preferences.

  1. Openness

Openness explores one’s propensity for novelty and intellectual exploration. Those scoring high on this dimension typically exhibit traits of independence, curiosity, and a penchant for abstract thinking. They tend to thrive on intellectual challenges, embrace novelty, and constantly seek new experiences/ ideas to stimulate their minds.

Behavioral tendencies:

  • Open to new experiences and ideas.
  • Enjoy intellectual stimulation and challenges.
  • Prefer variety and change.
  • Independent and nonconformist.
  1. Neutral

Neutrality encompasses emotional resilience and composure in the face of adversity. Those who score high on Neutrality demonstrate even temper, adaptability, and the ability to maintain perspective amidst stressful situations. Their calm demeanor and flexibility enable them to navigate challenges with grace and objectivity.

Behavioral tendencies:

  • Manage stress effectively.
  • Remain calm under pressure.
  • Adaptable to different situations.
  • Easygoing and agreeable.
  1. Analytical

Analytical people tend to excel in logical reasoning and systematic problem-solving. They often exhibit traits of methodical thinking and meticulous attention to detail. In addition, they approach tasks with a systematic mindset, relying on facts and logical analysis to arrive at informed decisions.

Behavioral tendencies:

  • Think logically and analytically.
  • Value accuracy and precision.
  • Enjoy problem-solving and critical thinking.
  • Organized and methodical.
  1. Relational

The Relational dimension delves into one’s aptitude for social interaction and relationship-building. Those who score high on Relationality embody empathy, compassion, and a genuine desire for connection with others. They excel in fostering strong interpersonal relationships, communicating effectively, and cultivating a collaborative environment.

Behavioral tendencies:

  • Build strong relationships with others.
  • Communicate effectively and empathetically.
  • Value teamwork and collaboration.
  • Helpful and supportive.
  1. Decisive

Decisiveness reflects assertiveness and confidence. Those scoring high on Decisiveness typically exhibit traits of confidence, goal orientation, and a proactive approach to decision-making. They embrace challenges with vigor, taking initiative and demonstrating a willingness to assume responsibility for their actions.

Behavioral tendencies:

  • Make decisions quickly and confidently.
  • Take initiative and responsibility.
  • Goal-oriented and achievement-driven.
  • Independent and assertive.

Just like the DISC framework, LPI admits that most people exhibit a combination of personality dimensions instead of one single type – specifically, they can be:

  • Neutral & Analytical.
  • Neutral & Relational.
  • Decisive & Analytical.
  • Relational & Analytical.

Sample of LPI Behavioral Styles Profile

Sample of LPI Behavioral Styles Profile

The LPI framework serves as a valuable tool for self-awareness, career development, and team dynamics. By gaining insights into their behavioral dimensions, one becomes better equipped to enhance communication, cultivate stronger relationships, and align their actions with their personal & professional aspirations.

How Behavioral Styles Impact Behaviors

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.

Peter Drucker

Behavioral styles serve as blueprints that shape individual and group behaviors, exerting a profound influence across various dimensions of human interaction:

  • Motivation & values

Each style emanates from distinct internal drivers and values, dictating one’s aspirations and priorities. For instance, Decisive gravitates toward achievement and tangible results, whereas Relation values cooperation and interpersonal harmony. These intrinsic motivations steer our actions – how we approach tasks, interactions, and decision-making.

  • Information processing

Behavioral styles shape one’s cognitive processing mechanisms – how they perceive, interpret, and assimilate information. While Analytical people may meticulously scrutinize details and factual data, Relational ones might prioritize emotional cues and relational dynamics. These differing lenses through which information is filtered contribute to distinct perspectives, conclusions, and responses.

  • Communication style

A Decisive person may embody assertiveness and forthrightness, whereas a Neutral one may resort to diplomatic and indirect approaches. These divergent communication styles not only define how individuals articulate their thoughts but also shape their receptiveness to others’ perspectives.

  • Interaction with others

Our behavioral styles have a significant impact on our inclinations toward collaboration, leadership, and conflict resolution. A Relational person may be prone to fostering patience and cooperation within team settings, while a Decisive one may inherently assume leadership roles.

  • Cognitive biases

Each approach comes with its own set of cognitive biases, which shape one’s mental shortcuts and heuristic-driven decision-making processes. For instance, Decisive may prioritize efficiency and expediency, potentially leading to oversight of critical details. Conversely, Analytical may err on the side of caution and analytical deliberation, which results in exhaustive information gathering.

  • Emotional reactions

Behavioral styles modulate our emotional expression and regulation mechanisms – how we respond to stressors and challenges. An Open person may readily exhibit optimism and enthusiasm, while an Analytical one is likely to adopt a more reserved demeanor.

  • Emotional triggers

A Decisive individual is particularly sensitive to criticism and feedback; on the other hand, one who scores high on Openness may be more prone to upheaval in response to change or uncertainty. Recognizing these idiosyncratic triggers empowers us to navigate emotional landscapes with heightened self-awareness.

  • Adaptability

By discerning the nuances of their behavioral tendencies, one is better equipped to consciously modulate their actions to align with situational demands or overarching goals. For instance, an Analytical person may consciously aim to cultivate flexibility in social settings to enhance interpersonal engagement and rapport.

Read more: Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – Strategies for Harnessing Its Power

Behavioral Styles of Leadership

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.

Ken Blanchard

People typically exhibit different behavioral patterns when wielding power, influenced by their personality and experiences. Some of the most prominent styles include:

Directive leadership:

  • Focus: Providing clear instructions and expectations, closely monitoring performance, and making most decisions.
  • Strengths: Efficient in high-pressure situations, clear direction for new or inexperienced teams.
  • Weaknesses: May stifle creativity, demotivate team members, and hinder learning & development.

Supportive leadership:

  • Focus: Enhancing team well-being, building trust and relationships, and providing emotional support.
  • Strengths: Creates a positive work environment, fosters collaboration, and increases team morale & loyalty.
  • Weaknesses: May result in indecisiveness, difficulty providing constructive feedback, and potential delays in decision-making.

Participative leadership:

  • Focus: Involving team members in decision-making, encouraging open communication, and valuing diverse perspectives.
  • Strengths: Boosts team ownership, increases engagement and problem-solving skills, and increases the chance to come up with innovative solutions.
  • Weaknesses: Can be time-consuming. Challenging to manage large groups, plus the risk of potential conflicts within the team.

Achievement-oriented leadership:

  • Focus: Setting high standards, challenging team members to improve, and emphasizing performance & goal achievement.
  • Strengths: Drives results, motivates high-performing teams, and fosters a competitive spirit.
  • Weaknesses: Can create a stressful work environment, neglect team well-being, and demotivate those who struggle to meet high standards.

Coaching leadership:

  • Focus: Developing individual potential and skills through ongoing constructive feedback and guidance, goal setting, coaching & mentoring, and creating opportunities for learning & growth.
  • Strengths: Empowers individuals, enhances skills and performance, fosters long-term development and career growth.
  • Weaknesses: Requires time investment and effective coaching skills, may not be suitable for all situations or team members.

Each of the styles above reflects a distinct approach to influencing others and asserting authority. In reality, most people exhibit a combination of power styles depending on the context and their goals. Understanding them and the associated strengths and weaknesses is crucial for one to become a more adaptable and effective leader in various situations.

emotional intelligence leadership

How to Identify Behavior Styles

The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.

John Hancock

Identifying behavioral styles requires a combination of introspection, observation, and feedback gathering. Here are several approaches to help you get started:

  • Reflect on your natural preferences

Take time to introspect and analyze your tendencies in approaching tasks, communicating with others, and making decisions. Consider whether you prioritize speed and results, value relationships and influence, seek harmony and cooperation, or focus on details and analysis. Reflect on past situations and your typical responses to them.

  • Take self-assessments

Consider participating in various online/ offline questionnaires designed to explore your dominant behavioral style. Validated tools like the DISC assessment or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) provide in-depth analyses based on questionnaire responses and scoring models. As such, they offer valuable insights into your behavioral tendencies and preferences.

  • Observe verbal and nonverbal cues

Pay close attention to verbal and nonverbal cues exhibited by individuals. Notice their speech patterns, body language, facial expressions, and choice of words. Determine whether they convey directness and assertiveness, enthusiasm and persuasiveness, patience and detail-orientation, or analytical precision.

  • Take note of behavior in different situations

Observe how individuals interact in various contexts such as meetings, presentations, or casual conversations. Assess whether their behavioral style adapts to the situation or remains relatively consistent. Notice whether they take charge, actively collaborate, or prefer to follow instructions.

  • Ask open-ended questions

Engage people in open-ended conversations about their work style, preferred communication methods, and decision-making approaches. Actively listen to their responses and observe their tone of voice for further insights into their behavioral tendencies.

  • Have discussions about specific scenarios

Invite people to discuss how they would react to hypothetical situations relevant to their work or personal life. Observe their analytical approach, consideration of options, and clarity in communicating their choices. This provides valuable insights into their decision-making processes and behavioral inclinations.

  • Seek 360-degree feedback

Collect confidential feedback from colleagues, managers, and direct reports regarding your perceived behavioral style. This comprehensive approach offers insights from multiple perspectives, aiding in the identification of your dominant behavioral tendencies. However, it requires trust and openness to input for optimal effectiveness.

Read more: Leadership Feedback – Key to Changing for the Better

How to Adapt to & Motivate Various Behavioral Styles in the Workplace

The only way to change someone’s mind is to connect with them from the heart.

Rasheed Ogunlaru

  • Connect to their motivators: Understand the intrinsic motivators associated with each behavioral style (e.g. achievement and results for Decisiveness; accuracy and competence for Analytical, etc.).
  • Tailor communication: Adapt your communication style to resonate with each individual’s preferences (e.g. speak directly and concisely with Decisive; provide data-driven logic for Analytical).
  • Delegate based on strengths: Assign tasks that align with one’s preferred styles to maximize their strengths and engagement (e.g. leverage Relational for relationship-building; engage Analytical in data analysis tasks).
  • Set clear goals and expectations: Provide context and specific objectives while adjusting the level of detail based on each style’s preferences.
  • Offer different types of rewards: Recognize and reward achievements in ways that resonate with each behavioral style. For example, you should provide public recognition and challenging goals for Open people, while offering social rewards and praise for Relational ones.
  • Create opportunities for growth: Challenge people to work on their less dominant styles by encouraging behaviors that may not come naturally to them. For instance, you can encourage Decisive people to practice active listening, while empowering Neutral ones to take calculated risks. Additionally, make sure to provide skill development opportunities and training programs that cater to different learning styles – so as to empower people to enhance their capabilities and adapt their approaches effectively.
  • Provide regular feedback and encouragement: Deliver specific, constructive input tailored to each style’s preferences. Celebrate successes and provide encouragement to foster motivation and engagement.
  • Create a diverse and inclusive environment: Encourage contributions from individuals across all behavioral patterns and value diverse perspectives. Foster an inclusive culture that promotes collaboration, innovation, and effective decision-making by leveraging the strengths of each style.

Change in Behavioral Styles

Change in behavioral styles is a dynamic process influenced by various factors:

  • Internal: Self-awareness, personal growth goals, value clarification, and a desire to improve relationships or career prospects.
  • External: Life experiences, feedback from others, changes in career or relationships, exposure to diverse perspectives, and training programs.

Generally speaking, the process typically goes through the following phases:

  • Awareness: Recognizing your dominant style and its impact on your behavior and interactions.
  • Exploration: Learning about other styles and understanding their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Experimentation: Trying out different behaviors associated with other styles in safe environments.
  • Integration: Incorporating new behaviors gradually based on the specific situations.
  • Mastery: Achieving a level of flexibility and control over your behavioral style, adapting it consciously and effectively.

Questions for Exploring Behavioral Styles

Communication:

  • How would you describe your preferred communication style?
    • Direct and to the point?
    • Enthusiastic and persuasive?
    • Patient and detail-oriented?
    • Analytical and factual?
  • Do you enjoy being the center of attention during conversations, or do you prefer to listen and observe?
  • How comfortable are you expressing disagreement or constructive criticism?

Decision making:

  • Do you prefer to make decisions quickly and independently, or do you value input from others?
  • How much importance do you place on data and analysis before making a decision?
  • How comfortable are you taking risks and trying new things?

Motivation:

  • What motivates you the most in your work or personal life?
  • Achieving results and goals?
  • Building relationships and connections?
  • Stability and security?
  • Accuracy and precision?
  • What are some things that tend to demotivate you?

Stress management:

  • How do you typically handle stress and pressure?
  • Do you prefer to take action and solve problems directly, or do you need time to process and reflect?
  • How important is it for you to maintain a calm and controlled demeanor?

There are no right or wrong answers – these are just starting points for reflection. The most important thing is to be authentic and true to yourself.

behavioral styles

Resources for Analyzing & Understanding Behavioral Styles

Quizzes/ Questionnaires

Assessments & checklists

Books

  • People Styles at Work and Beyond by Robert and Dorothy Grover Bolton. This book offers a practical framework for developing and applying behavioral styles skills based on the DISC model. It covers topics such as recognizing, reading, and adjusting to different styles, finding common ground, avoiding conflicts, and relating more effectively in various situations.
  • Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond by Jay Sullivan. Sullivan’s publication outlines the rules and best practices of business communication, with which one may better optimize their conversations with people of varying styles. It delves into topics such as structuring messages, using clear wording, incorporating body language consciously, giving and responding to feedback, and guiding meetings effectively.
  • The Platinum Rule by Tony Alessandra and Michael J. O’Connor. This book emphasizes treating others the way they want to be treated, rather than imposing one’s own preferences. It introduces readers to four basic business personalities – Director, Socializer, Relater, and Thinker – offering insights similar to the DISC model but with different names and descriptions.

A Few Parting Words

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.

Ralph G. Nichols

As we conclude our exploration of behavioral styles, here are some key points to remember:

  • Flexibility & evolution: Behavioral styles are not rigid constructs; they can evolve over time depending on circumstances and life experiences.
  • Variability & inconsistency: Individuals may not always exhibit behaviors consistent with their dominant style.
  • Avoiding stereotypes: It’s essential to refrain from using behavioral styles to categorize or stereotype people. Instead, view them as tools for understanding rather than judgment.
  • Emphasizing opportunites for growth: Each style comes with its unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Focus on leveraging these strengths to enhance collaboration and productivity.
  • Complexity & nuance: Human behaviors are intrinsically multifaceted and nuanced. Therefore, try to look beyond surface-level labels and delve into the underlying motivations and preferences.
  • Holistic approach: Employ a combination of methods and approaches to gain a comprehensive understanding of behavioral styles. No single method is foolproof in capturing the intricacies of our behaviors.
  • Respect & acceptance: Rather than attempting to manipulate or change people’s fundamental styles, it’s better to cultivate an environment that celebrates diversity and allows others to flourish based on their inherent strengths.

By embracing these principles, we can foster a culture of understanding, appreciation, and collaboration, where team members are empowered to thrive and contribute their unique perspectives and talents to achieve shared goals.

Read more: Coaching Culture – How to Cultivate One at Work

Learn to Harness Behavioral Styles with ITD World’s Professional Training Courses

At ITD World, we offer a comprehensive suite of professional training courses designed to help you harness the power of behavioral styles and transform your interactions.

  • Uncover your unique style

Our EQ training course equips you with the tools for self-awareness. Through interactive exercises and expert guidance, you will learn to discover your dominant behavioral style and how it impacts your communication, decision-making, and relationships. This newfound understanding should empower you to identify your strengths and blind spots, paving the way for personal growth.

Emotional Excellence at the Workplace Program – facilitated by Prof Dr. Leonard Yong at Menara Public Bank

Emotional Excellence at the Workplace by Prof Dr. Leonard Yong

  • Decode the styles around you

Understanding yourself is just the first step. Our coaching courses delve into the fascinating world of behaviors beyond your own – including those of your colleagues, clients, and team members. By understanding their motivations, communication preferences, and decision-making processes, you may tailor your interactions for greater clarity, connection, and collaboration.

Whether you’re an individual seeking personal growth or a leader looking to build a high-performing team, we have just the tools you need to succeed.

Join us and embark on a journey of self-discovery and connection. Learn how to harness the power of behavioral styles and unlock your full potential. Contact ITD World today for a completely FREE consultation!

Other resources you might be interested in:

ITD Vietnam is part of ITD World – a top ranked provider of Talent & Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Training & Consulting services.

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