When asked to describe our personality and behaviour types, most of us can give a reasonably good summary such as:
- I’m outgoing and love to be around people
- I don’t like to get into the detail
- I am fast-moving and action-orientated
However, we sometimes struggle to understand the drivers of this, how it is affected by different situations such as our work and how our personality and behaviours can impact others.
As a leader, this is a crucial capability to have. It determines how you will show up in different situations and, more importantly, impact your team, peers, and senior leaders.
By understanding your behavioural style and having an awareness of others, you can be more intentional in your actions and have a more significant impact – more importantly, the right impact.
DISC is a behavioural profiling tool that you can use to help individuals better understand their personality and behavioural traits and their impact on others. It’s a powerful tool to understand yourself and how you communicate within your teams and others across your organisation.
The four different behavioural profiles are:
No one type is better than another. We all tend to use each type in different situations; however, we will display a preferred style.
Let’s look at each in turn and what it means for you as a leader:
Individuals who display these traits tend to be fast-paced, but they’re more focused on the task than the person. Senior leaders in organisations often display these traits and can be more demanding than other personality types.
They’re impatient, interrupt others and may become more irritated quickly. They like to focus on the bigger picture view of the world.
When engaging with someone displaying Dominance traits, you will want to:
- Recognise their achievements
- Be prepared, fast-paced and to the point
- Behave in a professional and businesslike manner
- Learn what their goals and objectives are – what they want to accomplish
- Understand how they currently are motivated to do things and what they would like to change
- Suggest solutions with clearly defined and agreed upon consequences, as well as rewards that relate specifically to their goals
These individuals are people-focused and fast-paced. To identify an ‘I’ style, you will likely see someone who gets animated quite quickly and gets very excitable in the conversation.
They’re going to be very open and friendly; they’re going to stay away from some of the hard facts, and they may make decisions quite spontaneously.
When engaging with someone displaying Influence traits, you will want to:
- Show that you’re interested in them and letting them talk
- Allow your animation and enthusiasm to emerge
- Take the initiative to introduce yourself in a friendly, informal manner and being open to discussing topics that interest them
- Support their dreams and goals
- Illustrate your ideas with stories and emotional descriptions
- Summarise details and direct these toward mutually agreeable objectives and actions
These individuals are still very people-focused, but they tend to move slower and want to understand a little more about the situation before making decisions. It’s likely going to be quite an easy-going conversation where they’re going to listen carefully, ask questions about the specifics of the conversation.
When engaging with someone displaying Steadiness traits, you will want to:
- Do what you say you will do
- Get to know them more personally
- Approaching them in a non-threatening, pleasant and friendly but professional way
- Develop trust, friendship and credibility at a relatively slow pace
- Ask them to identify their own emotional needs as well as their task or business expectations
- Get them involved by focusing on the human element…… that is, how something affects them and their relationships with others
An individual who displays compliance traits is very focused on the task and loves information and data. They tend to operate at a slower pace and think things through.
Individuals will be a lot quieter in the conversation, want to focus on the details, ask lots and lots of questions, and they’re likely to have done their homework before they even meet you.
When engaging with someone displaying Steadiness traits, you will want to:
- Prepare so that you can answer as many of their questions as soon as possible
- Greet them cordially but proceed quickly to the task. Don’t start with personal or social talk
- Ask questions that reveal a clear direction, and that fit into the overall scheme of things
- Document how and why something applies
- Give them time to think. Avoid pushing them into a hasty decision
- Tell them both the pros and cons and the complete story
- Use a logical approach
The best leaders are great coaches, helping build the capabilities of their team members, allowing them to grow and be more effective in their roles. To be the best coach, you need to adapt how you coach with the different DISC profile types.
Dominance – coach them to:
- Listen to other opinions
- More realistically gauge risks
- Exercise more caution and deliberation before making decisions
- Be more patient
- Follow pertinent rules, regulations, and expectations
- Remain calm and not overreact
- Become aware of how their behaviour impacts others
- Recognise and solicit others’ contributions
- Tell others the reasons for decisions
- Cultivate more attention/responsiveness to emotions
Influence – coach them to:
- Learn to listen attentively and talk less
- Prioritise and organise
- See tasks through to completion
- Avoid emotional reactions
- View people and tasks more objectively
- Look at the details
- Avoid or shorten the unnecessary conversation
- Follow up
- Stick to the point
- Write things down
Steadiness – coach them to:
- Utilise shortcuts and discard unnecessary steps
- Avoid doing things the same way
- Embrace change
- Understand there are different ways to approach tasks
- Be less risk-averse
- Be more assertive
- Learn to say no
- Speak out and be heard
- Think less, act faster
- Accept credit and praise
Compliance – coach them to:
- Engage with people and talk more
- Make decisions faster and focus on only the important criteria
- Share their knowledge and expertise with others
- Stand up for themselves with the people they prefer to avoid
- Aim for realistic deadlines and parameters
- View people and tasks less seriously and critically
- Stay on course with tasks, less checking
- Understand that mistakes are sometimes O.K.
- Focus on the big picture
- Maintain high expectations for high priority items, not everything
The principle, “treat people the way they like to be treated” can positively affect almost every aspect of managing/leading others. With each of the four DISC behavioural types, for example, there’s a different way to communicate and delegate tasks to them, compliment and correct them; and motivate and counsel them.
This will improve your effectiveness as a leader and get more from your team members.
Remember, as the well-known quote goes – “you are only as good as your team.”
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