A Leader’s Guide to the DISC Personality Assessment
Understanding people’s personality styles
‘To understand others, you first have to understand yourself.’
The DiSC Assessment will help you learn more about yourself, and understanding yourself better is the first step to becoming more effective when dealing with people (especially within a work environment). The knock-on effect is that if you learn about other people’s DiSC styles you will be able to understand their priorities and how they differ from your own.
DiSC is a powerful way to assess and understand people and their personality types. Everybody has likes and dislikes; quirks and unique qualities that make up their personality – the things that make you ‘you’; and everyone is different and that’s what makes life more interesting (and more often than not, more challenging).
Newsflash: Everyone is not like you.
Personality is expressed by our internal emotions channeled through our external behavior; and our behavior is how we prefer to interact with the people around us (and other external factors). In a nutshell, this assessment will help build more effective relationships.
As we know every person has a unique character. As a new manager or a young leader, learning how to deal with different personality types can be a tough task, to say the least, especially if you are still learning how to recognize personality traits of others. Add age, culture, religion and gender into the mix and you could be heading for the hills!
The Origins of the DiSC Assessment Model:
The DiSC model was first outlined by a Physiological Psychologist in 1928, named William Moulton Marston. Based on his theory of a person’s perception of self in relation to the environment, which then would in turn help to understand and manage relationships with others. Through the decades that followed, several assessments using Marston’s theories were developed, which eventually led to the modern DiSC Assessment. The DiSC Assessment today, published by Wiley is a non-judgmental tool used for discussion of people’s behavioral differences.
DiSC Styles – Overview:
The four communication styles being: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness, briefly described as:
‘D’ Dominance: How we solve problems: the person places emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line and confidence.
‘I’ Influence: How we relate to people: the person places emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness and relationships.
‘S’ Steadiness: Our pace and energy level: the person places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity and dependability.
‘C’ Conscientiousness: How we respond to rules and procedures: the person places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise and competency.
DiSC Cornerstone Principles – the foundations of the assessment:
- All DiSC styles are equally valuable and everyone is a blend of all four styles.
- Created to encourage a person to be his/her best – not as a way to “label” someone. Assigning labels and rationalizing poor behavior is not what DiSC profiles are about.
Leadership & DiSC:
The DiSC Assessment especially for Leaders is called The DiSC Leadership Profile. Which fundamentally answers the question ‘What kind of leader are you’. This helps identify your behavior and your leadership style.
Leaders: they craft a vision, they build alignment and they champion execution
With the DiSC Leaders Model, you will:
- Receive tangible steps directed at leading a group or organization toward a desired outcome.
- Understand how your tendencies influence your effectiveness in specific leadership situations.
- Understand yourself better – the first step to becoming more effective when leading others.
- In essence, it will help you become more self-aware and help you recognize your strengths and shortcomings and of the team around you.
Leadership and the complexities of personalities and behaviors:
A Harvard Business Review article hit the nail on the head: “Teams with members who are open-minded and emotionally intelligent, leverage conflict to improve performance; whereas neurotic and closed-minded teams fall apart in the face of disagreement.”
It’s a fact and you will learn this hard truth: It’s just not that simple to get people working together the way you’d like. Freud’s view on ‘tension’ in the workplace sits between ‘getting ahead and getting along’. The dynamics of interpersonal relationships depend on individuals’ personalities, not on hard skills or expertise. To create a cohesive unit/team, select members on the basis of personality, soft skills, and values. This is where personality profiling comes in, like the DiSC Assessment Model.
‘Most leaders understand the benefits of collaboration
How different personalities interreact: (a topic with many variables!!)
Most days you will feel like you are juggling ten balls at once and that will just be the different personalities! Have you ever said the same thing to two people and received two totally different reactions? How can that be? Well, two people heard you say the same thing but react differently to what you said based on their different personality styles. Let it be said: different is not bad, it is just different. It’s your job as a leader to understand that each person on your team hears your words through their own personality filters.
Generally speaking, people who have task-oriented personality types tend to have considerable focus on details and people who have relations-oriented personality types tend to have considerable focus on the result. Therefore, it is important for a leader to understand personalities and accurately adjust their leadership style to manage situations well. Not an easy task, but if it was easy then everyone would be a leader!
Communicating with others with the help of DiSC:
The DISC model of human behavior is based on two foundational observations:
Some people are more outgoing, while others are more reserved.
You can think of this trait as each person’s “internal motor” or “pace.” Some people always seem ready to “go” and “dive in” quickly. They engage their motor quickly. Others tend to engage their motor more slowly or more cautiously.
Some people are more task-oriented, while others are more people-oriented.
You can think of this as each person’s “external focus” or “priority” that guides them. Some people are focused on getting things done (tasks); others are more tuned-in to the people around them and their feelings.
DiSC profiles help you, as a leader, and your team to:
- Increase your self-knowledge: how you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems
- Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
- Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
- Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
- Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members
Consider the DiSC styles that work well together:
Dominance+Conscientious / Influence+Dominance / Conscientious+Steady / Steady+Influence / Influence+Conscientious / Steady+Dominance.
Further information for those learning the ropes of Leadership:
Reading material: Books:
“Emotions of Normal People” by William Moulton Marston
“Taking Flight” by Daniel Silvert and Merrick Rosenberg
“The Essential DiSC Training Workbook” by Jason Hedge
Other reading material: DiSC selected online Articles
TED talk: Take “the Other” to lunch by Elizabeth Lesser
DiSC® is the leading personal assessment tool used by over one million people every year to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication.
‘If you want to be a leader who attracts quality people,
the key is to become a person of quality yourself.’