How Can a Leader Build More Productive Work Relationships? - Ask A Business Expert - Shawna Quigley

How Can a Leader Build More Productive Work Relationships?

We all know the importance of building strong work relationships.

So why is it easier to have a good relationship with some people versus others?

Many of us accept that this is just the way it is.

But what if I told you there is a proven way to create more productive work relationships?

My name is Shawna Quigley. I am a Business and Leadership Coach and the owner Quigley Coaching. I help leaders get better business results with clarity, focus, and confidence. My key areas of focus are business and sales execution, leadership development and self-management and stress management.

“SOCIAL STYLES has been used successfully around the world by more than one hundred million people.”
Shawna Quigley

In this article I am going to introduce you to SOCIAL STYLES and Versatility training and show you how you can use this proven approach to improve how you interact with people at work, your customers, and the community.

But before we go any further, let’s start with a clear definition of what a work relationship is.

What Is A Work Relationship?

 A work relationship is all the interpersonal interactions you have with people inside your organization, external stakeholders, clients, and your community.

It’s important to realize that in any work relationship some people will respond positively, negatively, or even be indifferent based on how they perceive you.

So having the ability to build productive and influential relationships by aligning with their preferences is critical to your work relationship success.

With that in mind, here is an introduction to SOCIAL STYLES and Versatility training.

How To Use SOCIAL STYLES And Versatility Training To Improve Work Relationships

SOCIAL STYLES is the leading interpersonal soft skills model developed by the Tracom Group.

“SOCIAL STYLES has been used successfully around the world by more than one hundred million people.”

It’s based on observable behavior which gives you a crucial understanding of the person you are interacting with. It also helps you understand how they habitually process information, communicate, and how they choose to focus their attention.

When I first learned about SOCIAL STYLES, I was in a sales training class and the instructor taught us the concept in about 20 minutes.

I remember being so excited!

Because I instantly saw how this approach could help me improve how I manage employees and sell to my customers.

If you’d like to read our full definition of what a work relationship is, then check out the Ask A Business Expert Dictionary by clicking on this link.

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As human beings we are far more predictable than we like to admit.

Using SOCIAL STYLES, we can profile people into four style types:

  1. Driving
  2. Expressive
  3. Amiable
  4. Analytical

Each one has unique and predictable characteristics that you can recognize and then respond to in ways that are most compelling for them.

4 Ways To Use SOCIAL STYLES To Build More Productive Work Relationships

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SOCIAL STYLE #1 – Driving

If someone has a ‘Driving’ style, then they are:

  • Direct
  • Fast paced
  • Decisive
  • Oriented towards action
  • Often impatient
  • Focused on results

They tend to control the conversation and tell you clearly and concisely (sometimes abruptly) what they want or expect.

Their focus is on results, which means they often pay little attention to other people’s perspectives. They also don’t notice the impact on other people’s emotions.

So, people with a ‘Driving’ style often don’t get the support they need from others because they do not take time to get to know others or listen well.

Also, when they are under stress, they can become autocratic and micro-managing.

So how can you deal with a ‘Driving’ type of person?

The most effective ways to interact with this style is to be confident, quick to the point, focused on the results, tasks or outcomes, and also be action-oriented.

Because they do not want to be bogged down with needless discussion or information. They just what they need to make a swift decisive decision.

SOCIAL STYLE #2 – Expressive

If someone has an ‘Expressive’ style, they are:

  • Enthusiastic and highly emotive with their use of hands, body, and facial expressions
  • Outgoing story tellers focused on the future, who love to be involved with others
  • Less concerned with routines and often act impulsively
  • Easily distracted and would rather just talk things out versus being presented with lots of information

When an ‘Expressive’ style person is under stress they tend to verbally attack others and press their viewpoints often in a personal way.

When interacting with Expressive individuals you need to allow time to be social, and give them the opportunity to share their thoughts and enhance their personal brand.

And make sure to tell them stories (and not just a bunch of facts or logical arguments).

SOCIAL STYLE #3 – Amiable

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If someone has an ‘Amiable’ style, they are:

  • Quieter, warm, agreeable, cooperative, and careful
  • Good listeners who tend to ask questions versus directing the conversation
  • Focussed on people
  • Ensuring that everyone’s feelings are taken care of
  • Making certain that their actions are best for all concerned and create safety

When they are under stress they may go along with others even if they disagree or delay acting on what you had agreed upon in order to avoid conflict.

You can create a productive relationship with an ‘Amiable’ style person by building a relationship with them and showing concern and interest in them.

Also, do not assume that if they are silent that they do not have something to contribute or that they are not engaged in the work and making progress.

SOCIAL STYLE #4 - Analytical

If someone has an ‘Analytical’ style, they are:

  • Logical, conservative, can appear distant
  • Focused on tasks or solutions, they have a need to be accurate
  • Slow decision makers because they need to review all available information and evidence

When they are under stress, their need is to be right and they may avoid people or situations when a decision or firm stand is needed.

To successfully work with an ‘Analytical’ style you should always provide accurate information, data, and logic and allow them thinking time before expecting them to comment.

Real-Life Example

Here is an example of two Style types in a real-life scenario and how easily good intentions can go wrong.

While still pursuing my professional career I had a boss who was a Driving style (I am an Amiable style).

As a person who cares about helping others, and someone who had previously managed employees in a similar fast-paced demanding company I communicated with him in a way that I found most successful and best for me.

I wanted him to have clarity of any potential business concerns and be well prepared for any stakeholders’ conversations he had on my accounts, so I provided detailed recaps of my activities.

I also wanted to ensure that my boss understood the significant contributions I was making, since it was rare to have any one-on-one time with him as he was so focused on new team members and business units that were struggling.

Despite my well-meaning intentions, he did not see the value in the efforts I made to keep him informed.

He simply wanted to contact me when he had a question, and otherwise assume he was satisfied.

He even “joked” with me that my detailed responses would make for good bedtime reading material.


I was hurt and more than a little angry with his lack of appreciation of my efforts and even my experience.

This is a classic example of how we treat people as we want to be treated and how it can cause resentments and miscommunications.

As a leader this is dangerous.

Because our high performing people need validation, appreciation, and your attention.

If they don’t get it, then they might leave because they are not feeling valued or supported.

SOCIAL STYLES And Versatility

The real power of SOCIAL STYLES is in understanding that our employees, partners, and clients have different needs and preferences from ourselves and then adjusting our own behaviour to meet their needs to create productive working relationships.

This is also referred to as Versatility, which is a learnable skill and is the best predictor of success and the key to boosting interpersonal effectiveness in any social setting.

What Is Versatility?

Versatility is how well you adjust to the Style needs of others.

The more you consciously adjust your behaviours to meet the needs of the people you are interacting with the more productive your working relationships become.

Versatility is a choice and can change over time, unlike your own style type which is your normal pattern of behaviour since childhood.

Versatility is a strong predictor of successful job performance and leadership.

Tracom has done extensive research on these findings for persons with high versatility: plus 15% variance in performance and Managers had significantly higher ratings on 46 of 47 leadership measures. (Source: SOCIAL STYLE & Versatility Technical Report, Tracom Group)

Four Steps To Help Improve Your Versatility

  1. Know yourself by recognizing your own style and the impact you have on others.
  2. Control yourself learn to manage your style behaviour and be tolerant of others’ styles.
  3. Know others and observe others and recognise their style types.
  4. Do something for others and adjust my style to meet the needs of the other person to build the most productive relationships.

*TRACOM Corporation SOCIAL STYLES Training

Find Your Personality Style

The best way to clearly understand your style type is by taking the Tracom online assessment.

It takes less than 10 minutes to complete, and your results will be immediately available for download.

The online programs also give you access to robust learning materials when purchased through an authorized reseller of Tracom.

If you would like to take the online assessment, please get in touch with me directly or visit

Work With Your Coach

In my coaching practice I help my clients to profile the people they work with and teach them how to be more versatile in those interactions.

For example, when a client of mine says that they are frustrated with a colleague, I ask them to tell me about that person.

After learning about their colleague then we can estimate their style and start to figure out how to help the client learn how to deal with them.

Coaching Example

A client of mine, we will call them “Sam,” hired me to help him improve his relationships with other members of their executive committee.

Sam was finally in a company where he wanted to stay long-term, and he wanted to have great working relationships throughout the company. In prior roles he had strong results but left organizations because he struggled with sustaining positive working relationships with co-workers and stakeholders.

We worked together for 6 months to help him to develop the relationships which he wanted to achieve.

At the beginning, he described a senior leader who was hostile and uncooperative with him. The information and collaboration he needed to have with this person was extremely poor.

During those 6 months, Sam deliberately focused on the senior leader’s style needs and preferences while playing down his natural tendencies that had been previously getting in his way.

Just prior to the end of our program Sam informed me that this same senior leader had nominated him for a company recognition award for his teamwork, collaboration, and department results.

This was an example of how we can profile others style types and then manage our behaviours to be more focused on the needs of the person we are working with.


In this article I introduced you to the power of SOCIAL STYLES and Versatility Training.

The four Social Styles are:

  1. Driving
  2. Expressive
  3. Amiable
  4. Analytical

Versatility is the measure of how willing you are to adjust your behaviours to best meet the style needs of others. It is a choice and a learnable skill which significantly impacts your working relationships and overall performance measures.

When you combine the two then you are better able to build productive and influential relationships with people at work, customers, and the community with less conflict and greater efficiency.

There are several SOCIAL STYLES training programs by the Tracom Group available for in-person or online training through an authorized reseller. There are leadership programs helping leaders to manage employees, diverse employee groups learning to work together, and sales professionals learning to manage selling relationships both in person and virtually.

If you want to learn more about SOCIAL STYLES, please contact me directly – – or visit

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Shawna Quigley

Shawna Quigley is a certified coach and an expert in Sales, Leadership, and Business Execution. Her unique blend of proven coaching and training programs, helps business owners to become effective leaders, scale their growth, be more productive, and manage self-limiting beliefs. She has helped thousands of people deliver results by focusing on goals and action plans, business clarity and skill development.

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