I was first introduced to the DISC behavioral assessment after obtaining an internship with TTI Success Insights. After taking their DISC assessment, I received a 60 page report tailored just for me. Later, I was debriefed on my unique behavioral style to better understand how I do what I do and was blown out of the water with the accuracies.
However, after working for TTI Success Insights for five months, I started to notice a trend in and out of the workplace that left me feeling discouraged.
Though my experience in the professional business workplace is limited, I noticed many business leaders and successful entrepreneurs I have met or heard about possess a dominance behavioral style, or high-D, as their predominant style.
I couldn’t help but wonder if somehow this was a prerequisite to business success and if I was incapable of becoming a leader because I am a high-I/S? Was I not cut out to be a great leader solely because of my high behavioral styles?
DISC is built around four unique behavioral styles, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. Nearly each and every one of us has one factor that has a stronger intensity than the others, making it our primary behavioral factor. The distinctive qualities of each component in the DISC profile partially impact the way we approach people, tasks and the entirety of our daily lives.
Dominance refers to how people address problems and challenges. A high-D is defined as a self-starting individual who is forward-looking and embraces challenges and places a high value on hitting goals. Whereas, a low-D is passive and reflective when dealing with conflict or challenges.
Influence refers to people and contacts. An individual who is a high-I is normally seen as a people-oriented communicator and an optimistic team player. A low-I, however, excels behind the scenes and prefers to work alone to achieve desired results.
Steadiness refers to a person’s pace and consistency. A high-S is composed and resistant to change, wanting to focus on one task at a time. They are even-tempered, and good listeners who are friendly and sympathetic. On the flip side, a low-S has an impatient and impulsive nature. They love variety and prefer to take on multiple tasks
Compliance refers to how people respond to procedures and constraints. A high-C driven person is a conscientious perfectionist. They maintain high standards and attention-to-detail to ensure effectiveness of a project. High-C’s think very systematically and make calculated decisions based on data and facts rather than a gut feeling. Yet a low-C, is very firm, strong-willed and stubborn when offering opinions and advice. They are opinionated and know what they want.
It’s important to know your natural behavioral style is created by external forces you can’t always control, such as genetics and past experiences.
In the universal language of DISC, there is no “good” or “bad” style. Being “high” or “low” doesn’t indicate positive or negative. Your personal DISC profile indicates your natural unique behavioral tendencies.
However, due to the pervasive bias of the West, many leaders who have natural introverted talent patterns on the S & C side may feel pressured to be more extroverted, trying to conform to the faster paced, D and I behavioral styles. But in reality, you don’t need to conform at all. It’s very likely that you are just overlooking your introverted strengths because you are used to commonly seeing extroverted personalities found in western society leadership.
D/I-style leaders are visionary pioneers because they focus on the big picture and more often than not, look toward the future. D/I styles tend to be active and energetic.
We’ve all heard people be critical of themselves because they personally lack certain traits they admire in others. But it’s unhealthy to try to be someone other than you who really are. It is important to remember that individuals can experience burnout and stress by experiencing too much or constant adaptation. Adaptation is the process of feeling pressured to adjust to your environment based on the behavior needed to accomplish a certain outcome.
Trying to possess qualities that are not authentic to you may prove to be unbeneficial in the long run. Because of this obvious fact, attempting to permanently change your behavioral style is a waste of time and energy. The simple truth is, there is no reason to try to change who you are. Anybody can be a successful leader, regardless of their behavioral style.
Rather than wasting time with style envy, why not embrace the virtues of who and what we are instead? It is essential to focus on how to use your natural behavioral style to your advantage to help you live a rich and fulfilling life.
Owning your DISC style
Leadership is not about our DISC style, but about self-awareness and using our natural talents while strengthening our weaknesses. It’s about having a vision and bringing others on board with us to meet or refine that vision.
It wasn’t until I started to accept and own my I/S style that I realized my unique focus was on leading people and managing projects. I/S leaders tend to not direct people as it constructs their growth. They are supportive of the goals and responsibilities of others and have the patience to ask the right questions to help individuals grow.
Owning our natural behavioral style is about accepting who we are - strengths and weaknesses included. Our personal style is not someone’s opinion; it’s based in science. Transparency is one of the greatest benefits of owning your style that can provide clarity to how you do what you do. Essentially, it is a common quality of some of the most effective leaders.
Good news! While DISC can tell us how a person does what they do, it is not a be-all, end-all. There are many uncontrollable factors that can determine our primary style.
And while we cannot choose one style over the other, it is important to know that a specific behavioral style or blend of styles does not predict success on its own. Each DISC style possesses its own strengths and unique behaviors allowing everyone to become the strong and resilient leaders they may aspire to be.