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In Memoriam, Roger H. Reid, TRACOM Co-Founder and Co-Developer of SOCIAL STYLE

Of TRACOM’s family of Social Intelligence models, SOCIAL STYLE has the longest history.  The original SOCIAL STYLE work was initiated in the 1950s by Dr. David Merrill at The University of Denver looking at what distinguished top performers from the pack.  At Merrill’s side for decades was Roger Reid and the two of them changed the way interpersonal skills were identified, measured and developed.  Reid died earlier this month at the age of 91.  His contributions to TRACOM and the practice of organizational psychology are significant.

Reid moved to Colorado with his wife Dolores in 1950 and became one of the state’s first licensed psychologists. It’s rumored that his license number was 007, which probably gave him some satisfaction.

Along with Merrill and Gordon Brunson, they formed the consulting firm of Reid, Merrill and Brunson, which later was renamed TRACOM. Their groundbreaking research demonstrated that while education, intelligence and job experience were important factors in workplace performance, the ability to form effective relationships with others was even more important to success.  They developed the SOCIAL STYLE Model and its earliest measurement assessments and training programs.  Their work is the foundation of the program that has been used by tens of thousands of organizations and millions of individuals worldwide.  Roger and David Merrill authored their “Personal Styles and Effective Performance” book about Social Style in 1984 that is still in print.

Roger was an avid sportsman and outdoorsman, who enjoyed skiing, big game hunting, fishing and camping in the high country of Colorado throughout his adult life. Later in life he took up golf, which he enjoyed greatly. He and his wife and family traveled extensively, literally to every continent except Antarctica.  An avid reader, Roger continued to follow the professional literature well into his 91st year. He took great pride in lexicography, history and the social sciences.

Roger was also a community volunteer who spent thousands of hours volunteering at Lutheran Hospital in Wheat Ridge, as a paramedic in Jefferson County, and with the Visiting Nurses Association as a handyman. He also taught classes through the AAA of Colorado to help senior drivers learn defensive driving.

Following are remembrances of Roger H. Reid from a few of the people he influenced.

From John Myers, current TRACOM President and Chief Executive and author of The Versatility Factor. 

Roger was a wonderful colleague and it is a privilege to have worked with him for so many years.  He taught me much about people in general and SOCIAL STYLE in particular.   His lessons helped me understand how each Style views Versatility through a slightly different lens.  Over informal late-day discussions Roger provided ongoing insights into behavioral preferences and the various ways one can earn or lose Versatility.  He gave me numerous ways to understand Analytical Style people and to avoid putting people in boxes.  He always emphasized SOCIAL STYLE as a theme to one’s behavior rather than a limitation and his teaching influences my thinking about Versatility still today.

He also taught me that when an Analytical Style says “Hmmm Hmmm”, they are really just letting you know they are hearing what you said, not agreeing with you!  A great lesson for a Driving Style like me.

From Steve Kirkpatrick, longtime SOCIAL STYLE instructor and former member of the psychology faculty at Regis University

In the 25 years I knew Roger Reid I had many conversations with him about a wide range of topics.  He read voraciously, and loved to discuss his latest explorations.  In recent years he decided to know more about theoretical physics, space and time.  Why does a retired octogenarian decide to explore something so complex?  Because it struck his fancy and piqued his curiosity.

We discussed Style and Versatility intensely and repeatedly.  I learned many useful lessons over the years. One of the best was Roger saying “Just be yourself.  Eventually, they will figure out that you are being genuine.” When life gave me lemons, Roger knew how to help me make lemonade.  When I enjoyed a success, Roger would remind me to “treat success and failure both as the impostors they are.”  He was one of those rare people about whom we can say without question that the world is a better place because of the life he led and the people he touched.

From Jerry Stigall, former director of learning services at TRACOM

I first met Roger in 1987 when I was a manager in the corporate development center for JC Penney in Dallas. I had previously read the Personal Styles and Effective Performance book he co-authored with David Merrill, but hadn’t yet experienced SOCIAL STYLE training.  At that time, the JCP culture was quite conservative in its ‘image’ requirements. Suits and ties, not sport coats, were expected. In those days, I may have been lagging in the image area a bit with longer hair than my other male colleagues, so Roger made an example out of me because “I needed a haircut” compared to the other men in the room.  I thanked him for that since I had just started at JCP. That’s when all his mischief with me started and we just loved it. I called him frequently after that with many questions and discussion about the nuances of the model.

When I was hired by TRACOM in 1990, Roger was vice chairman and semi-retired.  From that point forward, we spent much time talking about life, Social Style, and numerous other topics. We should all be so lucky to leave a legacy like Roger has left us. My personal mission in life has always been ‘try to leave things better than the way you found them’ and Roger certainly did that.

From Joe Ratway, current TRACOM instructor and former TRACOM president

Roger, the coach. I was one of the fortunate individuals who had the opportunity to experience Roger up close and personal in my professional career. He was my direct supervisor for my first 10 years at TRACOM. Most of all, he was my coach and mentor. He taught me the value of “process”.  In his Analytical Style manner, Roger had a way of letting me know what he valued, “how” he thought things should be done, and what outcomes were important. And yet, he was so skilled at allowing me to discover for myself, the value of his insights and thought processes.

There were times when I just wanted him to give me “the answer” so we could save some time and move along to other things.  But, rarely did he do that. He allowed me to struggle, push back and find the answer, He was gifted at nudging other along. ‘Have you thought about…?”  “Maybe we might look at this a little differently…” I can still feel those subtle nudges toward “the answer.” And, I am sure I always will for the rest of my life.

Because… Roger was my coach!

From Casey Mulqueen, TRACOM’s Senior Director of Learning & Development and author of The SOCIAL STYLE & Versatility Facilitator Handbook

I didn’t know Roger personally (we only met once briefly), but I have gotten to know his work. Not long after I started with TRACOM I was going through some old files and came across a computer printout of a factor analysis on the SOCIAL STYLE Model. It was one of those old forms, where the pages are attached to one another and there are holes where the paper was fed through a printer. It must’ve been from the 1970s. Roger’s hand-written notes were written throughout the analysis, with comments about the relationships among Assertiveness, Responsiveness and Versatility. The Style model was his baby and he cared deeply about maintaining it as a learning tool, not to mention the research integrity behind it. I was glad to have seen that analysis, it helped me to recognize all of Roger’s work and that it was critical for us to uphold the history and meaningfulness of the model.

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