Social Styles and IT: Beyond personal interaction

The well known 4 social styles model is useful to understand “how” you interact with people; you can also use this model to describe the “what” of IT to different stakeholders.

Driver, Expressive, Amiable and Analytical – these are the 4 behavioural styles that explain how people interact with eachother. Many leadership courses teach this interpersonal model to improve relationships, especially in the workplace. Looking through these lenses at your own IT estate will help you understand what stakeholders of each type are most interested in. [paragraph 1 of 5]

Drivers are very task oriented and usually operate in “tell” mode when leading or getting things done. They will want to know when you are delivering something and what decisions they can make (often on the spot) to help you. As many CEOs exhibit driver behaviour, they are the ones for who you should have your elevator pitch ready (“what are your top 3 issues?”); needless to say drivers make great project managers. [2/5]

The expressive IT stakeholder will be interested in the user experience of your software, include a demo of some new features when you give her an update next time. They will probably also have strong views about messaging, marketing and are usually the best stakeholders to say a few words at your go-live launch party. Expressive senior business leaders are often the hardest to educate about investing in IT but once convinced and emotionally convicted they will be your biggest champion. [3/5]

Analytics are interested in detail, so be proactive about providing artefacts relevant to their area of interest; architecture designs, costing models, processes, requirements, database models etc. IT is by nature very analysis driven and an IT leader will lose credibility within their own community without an eye for detail at some level. Analytics are polar opposites to expressives and you may be dealing with both styles in a meeting; balance your messaging and content accordingly. [4/5]

Amiables are the inverse of drivers; their specific interest in IT will be about user feedback, training plans, communications and can help you “rally the troops” when your system goes offline. They are good problem solvers and typically operate in “ask” mode so listen well – read here about when to keep your mouth shut. Don’t be too busy managing your software and hardware that you forget about the peopleware – the amiable will look for this and go the distance with you if needed. [5/5]

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