During the mid-1970s I attended a workshop in London led by Taibi Kahler and took copious notes as he taught us about his assessing quadrant. Later I obtained copies of two booklets that he published (Kahler 1979a, 1979b) and of course I have continued to read many of his later publications and to observe the growth of process communication. However, my predominant working styles (Hay & Williams 1989, Hay 1992, 2009) are Try Hard, which means I enthusiastically ‘improve’ things, and Hurry Up, which means I look for ways to simplify theories so they are quick to teach. Hence, I have continued to produce variations on Kahler’s original ideas; as my background when I first learned TA was organisational, I have also focused on positive rather than pathological psychology, and on development rather than cure.
In Hay (1993) I used Kahler’s original labels for the dimensions, although a year later (Hay, 1994) I renamed one of them to make a memory aid (in English) of active-passive and alone-people, the latter being my version of his withdrawing-involving.
In 1993, I related the AP2 model to leadership styles, as follows.
Active Withdrawing (1994 – Active-Alone)
Those in the top right-hand box of the quadrant are active, so they initiate contact; they are withdrawing, so their preference is to work alone or with only one or two people. Typically, therefore, they will go up to an individual (or maybe two already together) and start a conversation about work. They are most comfortable with a [Functional] Adult-[Functional] Adult channel of communication. This will also apply in their normal working environment so these people respond best to a leader who is available for one-to-one discussions and who is willing to discuss matters rationally and in some detail.
A leader who fits into this style is likely to spend a lot of time talking to individuals about their work. This will be fine for those who occupy the same corner of the quadrant but those to the left are likely to view the leader as an unfeeling workaholic. The bottom right group would simply be disconcerted at being expected to think. This leadership style is also unlikely to result in much teambuilding.
Active Involving (1994 – Active-People)
People in the top left-hand box are also active so they to initiate conversations; however, they are involving so they prefer to be with a group of people. They are likely to approach a group and instantly become the focus of attention. There will then be plenty of mutual nurturing as they talk about family, friends, appearance and other non-work-related matters. They are therefore using a Nurturing Parent-Natural Child channel, switching from side-to-side depending on aspects such as organisational status, age, gender and contents of each conversation. In the usual work setting they will appreciate the leader who makes time to get to know them as a human being, and may resent one who focuses too abruptly on getting down to business.
The leader who opts for this style may leave many staff feeling smothered and fussed over. The [Functional] Adult-[Functional] Adult group in particular may interpret the focus on personal matters as evidence of a lack of job knowledge and competence. Some will also view friendly questions about their personal life as an invasion of their privacy.
Passive Involving (1994 Passive-People)
Coming now to the bottom left, we have the people who opt for a group but are passive. They therefore move towards a promising looking group but do not instantly join it. Instead, they hover on the edges and wait for someone to draw them in. They are happiest talking about non-work matters such as hobbies and spare time activities, although they may also talk about work projects as enthusiastically as if these are hobbies. They enjoy most a channel of Natural Child-Natural Child, in which they and their listeners display excitement and enthusiasm for the current topic. At work they prefer a leader who shows an active and enthusiastic interest in their various activities. They also respond well to a playful approach.
The leader in this box may very enthusiastically initiate many new projects and may well enthuse people. However, they are likely to lose interest in the details, preferring to move on regularly to something else. Subordinates in the top left box may feel inclined to nurture them, whereas those in the right-hand boxes will find it difficult to accept what they regard as immature behaviour in a manager.
Passive Withdrawing (1994 Passive-Alone)
Coming to the bottom right, here are the people who would prefer to be alone, and tend to be passive so they do not initiate contact. Given the chance, they will stay alone and work steadily on their own. If they are forced to attend some meeting or event, they will wait for someone to start talking to them. They prefer Controlling Parent-Adapted Child communications; tell them to do something and they will respond. At work, they expect a manager who takes charge and issues clear instructions. They react uncomfortably to any show of interest in their personal lives.
These people are likely to become managers only in organisations where obedience to higher authority is rewarded, although elsewhere they might make supervisor level quite easily because of their conscientiousness. Their style of leadership will be parental and controlling.
Note that no one leadership style will be appropriate in all situations and for all employees. The skilled leader has the ability to use each style, and knows when to do so. Although some staff will in fact respond reasonably well to almost any approach, the really effective managers know the importance of choosing their style carefully with most people. With some staff they will therefore talk about work only, with others they will ask after their family, with some they will show a genuine interest in their latest ‘adventures’, with the rest they will maintain somewhat formal manager-subordinate relationship.
Later (Hay, 2001) I added a third dimension and named this acceleration-patience so that I could call my model AP3, or the assessing cube. I will describe this more in Part 2 of this blog.
Hay, J (1992) Transactional Analysis for Trainers London: McGraw-Hill
Hay, J (1993) Creating Community: The Task of Leadership Leadership & Organisation Development Journal 14:7 12-17
Hay, J (2001) AP3: The Assessing Cube TA UK 59 16-19
Hay, J (2009) Transactional Analysis for Trainers 2nd edit Hertford: Sherwood Publishing
Hay, J. & Williams, N. (1989) The Reluctant Time Manager, Opportunities May
Hay, J (1994) AP2 - Using the Assessing Quadrant to look at Leadership INTAD Newsletter 2:1 1-3
Kahler, T. (1979a). Managing with the Process Communication Model. Little Rock, AR: Human Development Publications card
Kahler, T (1979b). Process Therapy in Brief. Little Rock, AR: Human Development Publications.
© 2018 Julie Hay
Julie is a fan of open access publishing so feel free to reproduce any of these blogs as long as you still attribute it to her.