The Power of DISC

Written by Jenni Miller:

I’ve always had a keen interest in the psychology of people’s behaviour, having studied Social Science at University. My course covered all the ‘ologies’ (psychology, sociology, criminology) all of which examine human interactions and the factors which influence them. I was first introduced to DISC personality profiling about 10 years ago when I attended a workshop provided by my previous employer and it helped me further understand the nuances behind different personality traits.

I now use DISC on a regular basis in my work at ICL, and it is a key psychometric tool in our kit bag which we use for everything from leadership development to conflict management.

Have you ever wondered why you find it easier to get on with some people than others? Or why a colleague may have a tendency to be good at one task, but completely avoids others?

Having a good understanding of DISC can help you develop relationships and improve communication, particularly in the workplace, by knowing your own personality type as well as those in your team.

The DISC model of behaviour was originally proposed by William Moulton Marston, a physiological psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard. His 1928 book, Emotions of Normal People, established the theories that were later adopted and developed by many others. (Random fact: he also created the superhero Wonder Woman!).

By answering a series of questions about their behaviours and preferences, individuals can determine their primary and secondary styles (everyone will have a mixture of traits from all 4 styles, however most people tend to fall between one or two of the main quadrants). These styles are easily identifiable by the colours they are attached to: red, yellow, green and blue.

There are 4 main personality types:

· Dominance (red)

· Influencing (yellow)

· Steadiness (green)

· Conscientiousness (blue)

The use of DISC is primarily for self-assessment and self-reflection, to help you understand which style you incline towards the most. A significant by-product is that once you have an understanding of all four styles, you will be adept at recognising the styles of others and seeing both the similarities and the differences to yourself. This in turn is a powerful tool when it comes to communication and how you interact with those around you. When used in a workplace setting, particularly for leadership development, it can bring about a significant shift in collaboration and colleague engagement.

People with ‘D’ dominance personalities (Red) tend to be confident and are motivated by winning and success. Their communication style is direct and assertive.

People with ‘I’ inspiring personalities (yellow) tend to be more open and place an emphasis on building relationships and influencing others. Their communication style is friendly and energising.

People with ‘S’ supportive personalities (green) tend to be dependable, calm and patient. They place an emphasis on cooperation and stability. Their communication style is passive and inclusive.

People with ‘C’ conscientious personalities (blue) tend to place an emphasis on quality, accuracy, expertise, and competence. Their communication style is considered, logic and thorough.

Imagine an email being sent from a ‘red’ to a ‘green’. The red will be short and to the point, the green may interpret this as rude or be worried they have upset the red somehow. Think about giving instructions to a ‘blue’, they will need to know details and data, whereas a ‘yellow’ will be keen to get started with a task but may not always see it through.

Once you understand your own style, and those of your team members, you will be able to adapt your communication in a way that you can get the best out of your colleagues and relationships. For example, if you know you are a fiery red, you can dial down your tone and remind yourself not to overly command a conversation if you are speaking to a blue or green. Or, when having a conversation with a yellow, remember to ask them about their weekend, they love sharing their news!

A word of caution here is that whilst there is a plethora of free tests available to complete online, in order to see the full potential of what these reports can tell you, they should be administered by practitioners who are adequately trained to interpret and use them. Failure to do this could lead to manipulation of responses or misjudgement in reading the results. However, in our experience, we have seen significant shifts in team performances for our clients who have spent the time and resource on training their colleagues in personality types. In fact, I would argue that this is a life skill which should be taught to all.

Finally, in case you were wondering, I am a yellow! I like to talk a lot (sorry not sorry), I over-use expressions (I may have been told I have a resting B**** face on more than one occasion) and I get bored quite easily. However, I am a great communicator, I value strong relationships, and I am a glass half full, optimist.

What style are you?

If you would like to find out more about DISC, please reach out to me at .