Background: The regulatory focus theory (RFT) posits that people can pursue goals with a promotion or prevention focus. Greater alignment of RFT motivational styles between faculty and residents may enhance resident operative autonomy. This study establishes a set of faculty behaviors residents can identify to infer faculty motivational styles. Methods: 10 behaviors associated with promotion and prevention motivational styles were identified. General surgery residents rated faculty on how strongly they exhibit these behaviors. Faculty conducted a self-assessment of how strongly they exhibit these behaviors. Results: There is a positive correlation between resident and faculty ratings for the promotion-associated behaviors of “works quickly,” “high energy,” and “mostly provides broad oversight,” and for the prevention-associated behaviors of “works slowly and deliberately,” “quiet and calm,” and “preference for vigilant strategies.” Conclusion: Residents can observe faculty operative behaviors to infer faculty motivational styles. Residents may use this knowledge to adjust to faculty motivational styles and enhance operative interactions.