As a new member of a non-profit board, the chair recently asked all of us to complete the Everything DiSC Work of Leaders assessment. Having completed a number of assessments through the years – Myers Briggs, DiSC, Hermann Brain Dominance, Strengths Finder, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – the results were no big surprise. As Popeye would say, I am what I am. Still, I always find the data helpful in reminding me where I might have blind spots or where certain situations and people may challenge me.
Understanding personality and behavioral styles is a good thing. In business we deal with people. For sellers who understand style differences and how that plays out in sales meetings and communication, it can give them a real leg up when selling. When they adapt their style to give their buyers what they need, deals are won more often than lost. Sell the same way to everyone and the probability of missed opportunities increases.
Let’s say that your style is more high level thinker, optimistic and good at verbal communication but you tend to gloss over the details. If your buyer happens to have a style that requires details to make an informed decision, you need to be prepared to go there. If you try to reassure them through promises that you’ll do whatever it takes, that just will not be enough.
So assessments and understanding human behavior can be helpful in selling and in all interactions with other people.
Where assessments – and they are assessments not tests – become problematic is if other people try to box you in based on your style designation. This assumes that an assessment score is the sum total of who you are as an individual. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Assessments provide big clues as to a person’s dominant way of thinking, behaving or decision making, but even two people with the same style designation are not exactly the same. And, in the case of DiSC, which is based on four quadrants, you may be most dominant in two of them but that doesn’t mean you have no strength in the other areas.
If you don’t know DiSC, let me briefly break down the four quadrants.
- D=Dominance. Priorities include Results, Action, Competency. Avoid the small talk and focus on demonstrating quick, confident action.
- i= Influence. Priorities include Enthusiasm, Action, Relationships. Upbeat, outgoing, openness is important. Negativity, too many details or detached people are bothersome.
- S=Steadiness. Priorities include Sincerity, Relationships, Dependability. Casual and low key, these folks like predictable, harmonious environments.
- C=Conscientiousness. Priorities include Quality, Competency, Dependability. Quality and high standards is of utmost importance. Be prepared to present logical reasons for decisions.
Curious about my style?
My style is a balanced Di. These are my natural tendencies. Core priorities that shape my leader traits are:
- Being Pioneering – strategic, big picture thinker, I often see trends ahead of others. Always willing to risk trying something new and untested.
- Being Commanding – that’s the D in me. I will drive for results. Meeting after meeting but accomplishing very little or nothing at all… makes me nuts.
- Being Energizing – positive, glass half full gal is who I am. I believe the best in others until they prove me wrong. I tend to focus on what we CAN DO not what someone thinks we can’t.
- Being Affirming – seeking to include others comes naturally. Collaborative in nature, I like to share and acknowledge the good work of others.
And while these four descriptions are accurate, they are not the total picture of Barb. Though details can sometimes bore me, my style does not mean that I am not a detail oriented person. It means that you wouldn’t want to place me in a role that required detailed work 100% of the time. It drains my energy, and I’m the first to tell you that looking at detailed spreadsheets can make my head spin. But I’m pretty darn detailed when I need to be. If it is important, I do it. To assume otherwise strictly based on my personality type is incorrect and unfair.
What got me thinking about how people make assumptions about each other, especially when you complete assessments and share results among team members, is a comment made at recent meeting. The conversation related to a particular project that I am responsible for and jokingly someone said, its good that so & so is on your team because you aren’t much for details. It was a stupid thing to say. It is untrue and disrespectful. As a practitioner in the field of people development, that individual should know better.
Human beings have so much more depth than any assessment, regardless how detailed or scientifically validated it is, can ever fully describe. In team building, coaching or hiring, use assessments to provide insight about the styles of others, but never assume you know all there is to know about them.