Nov 21, 2017 | 5
Minute Read

The problem with measuring DISC only

iceberg.jpgThe problem with DISC is that similar behavioral styles can look so different. People are unique and you can’t measure only one part and hope to understand the whole. People with same behaviors might be driven by different things to feel fulfilled. DISC may tell part of the story but it does not paint a complete picture. I’m living proof that while DISC can be accurate in one realm, it can also miss what might be the most important aspect that defines a person - their motivations for why they behave the way they do. Though in my case DISC presented an accurate representation of who I was on one level, it failed to figure out why I did what I do and what motivated me to get up every morning. And that was a huge miss that led me to a very unsatisfying career for over two decades.

When you go deeper than DISC, you are able to have a much clearer understanding of yourself and others. Looking at an individual from more than one perspective is absolutely vital. We are multi-dimensional creatures so to see the whole package you can’t have tunnel vision looking through just one lens. Here are the top ten reasons to go deeper than DISC.

  1.   Increasing self awareness

There’s an old saying that goes “you can’t help others until you help yourself.” Understanding yourself first and foremost will help you maximize your potential, which you can then leverage to help others achieve theirs. Self-awareness is an important skill not measured by DISC but important to be successful in most walks of life. When a person is self-aware, especially during times of stress, they can identify a potential problem, remind themselves to take a step back and diffuse a potential problematic situation. Those with high self-awareness tend to find greater success compared with those who do not possess this skill.

  1.   Understanding the how and the why behind a person’s behavior

In the open, I talked about how DISC only painted a partial picture for me, personally. My profile reflected someone extremely dominant and influential, two commonly-found characteristics of successful salespeople. It just so happened I was in the sales field, and I was very successful. Sadly though, I just wasn’t happy in that career. I could count on one hand how many days I actually enjoyed going to work. And that’s a real shame since I invested over twenty-five years in the sales realm. That’s a lot of time I can’t get back, and had I identified sooner the reasons behind my unhappiness in this field, I could have done something about it. May my experience be someone else’s motivation to act now and love what they do!

How does someone identify that they are in a situation that isn’t meant for them? Identifying what drives or motivates a person is the key. Once I identified that I was motivated by creative endeavors, I could finally pursue avenues that utilized creativity. This gave me a reason to get out of bed every morning and finally be excited to go to work. I needed to tap into that creative muse; something that just wasn’t available to me as a sales executive or sales manager. And if it wasn’t for the assessment which uncovered this information for me, I may still be trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

  1.   Better Understanding Others

Going deeper than DISC can also help a person as it relates to their peers, team and their boss. Once you figure out what your strengths are and truly know what motivates you, only then can you find your rightful part within an organization where you can use your skills and motivators to excel.

  1.   Uncovering information without making assumptions

In the job marketplace, everyone starts out as a faceless resume on a piece of paper or electronic document. So many companies rely on the interview process to uncover information about potential employees, but what can you honestly learn about someone during a 30-60 superficial conversation about their job history? Utilizing multiple assessment solutions can uncover more about a person without making assumptions or having to rely on “gut” instincts. In a nutshell, going deeper than DISC helps companies to avoid judging a book by its cover.

  1.   Identify the needs for a group of people

Using assessments, especially team reports, can help identify the needs of a team and the individuals that make up a team. You don’t know what you don’t know, and until needs are identified, they will continue to go unmet. While the individual reports will dive deep to uncover important information about the individual, the team reports can shed light on the team as a whole, and how all the people within the team fit together, making it easy to identify if someone is in a position not necessarily suited for them. This helps to build stronger, more cohesive teams because each person on the team is doing a job they enjoy and are qualified to do.

  1.   Identify learned skills

Learned skills, or competencies, are not measured by DISC, but are key in determining if someone is cut out for a certain position. Each person has a unique hierarchy of competencies and these subjects include: leadership, interpersonal skills, goal orientation, understanding others, diplomacy, teamwork, problem solving, resiliency, flexibility and negotiation, just to name a few. Having competencies in many of these areas are keystones to certain jobs. Knowing, in advance, if a potential candidate is strong or weak in these areas can help a company hire the right person. And for the individual, they can identify any potential weaknesses so they can set goals on specific areas to improve.

  1.   Measuring emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence measures how someone operates under pressure and how well they deal with stress. A behavior again not measured by DISC, but an important one, especially for people that work in high-stress environments. When someone has a lower emotional intelligence, they are a candidate for the occasional emotional hijack (also known as an amygdala hijack). In this scenario, a person responds negatively to stress and can have a meltdown when put in stressful situations. While everyone has a bad day here and there, it’s good to identify if a person may be regularly susceptible to this sort of issue if their job is going to be continuously high-stress. If so, they may not be the right person for that job.

  1.   Identifying stress levels

An extension of emotional intelligence, stress assessments can measure how stressed a person is in a snapshot of time. While some people use stress as fuel or energy, others allow stress to eat them alive and obliterate their ability to be productive. Finding a person’s typical stress level will help to figure out what jobs or fields may be best suited for this person to consider for employment.

  1.   Understanding a person’s acumen

Above we talked about identifying learned skills, but understanding how these skills manifest for an individual are key to figuring out what is really inside someone. Research has shown that the most effective people are those who understand themselves, both their strengths and weaknesses, so they can develop strategies to meet the demands of their environment. Assessments that uncover insights about acumen can help predict the likelihood of a person succeeding or failing in certain situations.

  1.   Solve for a problem through people

Every business exists because there is a perceived need. Whether it’s a basic need such as food or water, or a perceived need such as a new Porsche, if there is a need, there will be a product or person to fill that need. Filling certain roles within a company qualifies as a need, or “pain point.” So if a company is looking to hire a person that needs to have very specific skills, including being: great under pressure, a good communicator and able to change course at the flick of a switch, how can an employer identify those characteristics within the framework of an interview? By assessing a person’s drivers, acumen, behaviors, stressors and emotional intelligence, a thorough, complete picture can be created that gives true insight into an individual and whether or not they are the unicorn (that rarely seen superstar) they are searching for to fill that very important position.


DISC is a great start to learning about an individual and how they might fit in with a team or an organization. But there is so much more information that can be learned and it’s important to go as deep as possible to uncover everything you can on the front end. DISC is just the tip of the iceberg. Knowing what’s underneath the tip of the iceberg so you can ensure that you have all the information that you need to make the right decision in an important situation.

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Dave Clark