Photo Alexander Grey

‘I need a team that operates at its best.’ This could be a good summary of what D.I.S.C. profiles can achieve! They are the words of the leader of a multinational organization, whose immediate environment reflected a diversity of backgrounds and a variety of roles and crafts. To overcome a particularly obstructive misunderstanding within the team, all its members benefited from the method created by William Marston in the U.S. to understand communication and behavior styles.

Valuing Behavioral Diversity

The “D.I.S.C.” method identifies 4 behavioral styles that reflect our perception of the world, and our relationship to the world. In brief:

  • D = Dominance: Proactive, extroverted, results-oriented.
  • I = Influence: Proactive, extroverted, people-oriented.
  • S = Steadiness: Reactive, people-oriented, people-oriented.
  • C = Conscientiousness: Reactive, task-oriented, task-oriented.

While they help identify a behavioral style (among four), DISC profiles nonetheless reveal the complexity and richness of our behaviors. There are no good or bad profiles, but rather a variety of behavioral dimensions coexisting within each person. Each dimension combines in a unique way, responding to specific needs and motivations that guide our actions. These motivations, or “driving forces”, illuminate our actions in different contexts. Thus, a taste for competition will not manifest in the same way in a person motivated by knowledge as it will in someone motivated by economy.

Furthermore, I often recommend that my clients imagine the reactions of a profile most opposite to their own. It’s less an exercise in empathy and more a mirror aimed at understanding the impact of our behaviors on those around us: if you like to move quickly, imagine the reaction to your proposed schedule from a person who likes to take their time to think first. It is actually easier for us to see the behaviors of others, especially when they are different—this is our own behavioral profile speaking! For example, if it seems perfectly natural to you to gather as many factual events as possible before making an important decision, it is only when you hear your colleague say, ‘I prefer a bad decision rather than no decision at all,’ that you realize your approach is just one of many possibilities!

What are the practical applications of behavioral profiles?

I have observed many teams of leaders or managers who have relied on the analysis of their individual and collective D.I.S.C. profiles. Here is what I found the most important:

  • Each person identifies behaviors they can either expand or limit to function at their best and take care of what is important to them (tasks, relationships, etc.): some behaviors are too far removed to be truly attainable, so it is those that are only adopted intermittently that a person can act on, by playing on the differences between their ‘natural’ style and their ‘adapted’ style.
  • Some behaviors remain inaccessible because they are too far removed from those that are natural or occasional to us: this is the time to identify them in others, not only to value their unique qualities but also to ‘cover’ all the dimensions that the organization or project needs. If you are not particularly factual, who around you will ensure the reliability of your decision? Do you lack perseverance as soon as deadlines stretch? Your peer or teammate will certainly be able to take over while staying in their comfort zone.
  • A person may find that contradictory tendencies are accessible to them: for example, being assertive but also sociable, or enthusiastic yet reflective. These contradictions can manifest flexibility (both options are accessible), or a dilemma (which one to choose?). A discussion at the time of the questionnaire results allows for exploration of this type of situation. Similarly, a dialogue can identify whether adapting to temporary constraints extends over time and carries a risk of suffering or burnout.
  • The team gains in transparency, trust, and therefore cohesion by taking the time to discuss the behaviors inside it. With their team, peers, or hierarchy: it is always enlightening to share what drives each person, their relationship with time, how they incorporate others’ perceptions (or not), their reaction to conflict, etc. And this also helps to set what can be expected in the team’s interactions.
  • This individual and collective knowledge is particularly useful in cross-functional projects where it is not authority that initiates movement, but more than ever a common goal and an understanding of respective contributions.

And to finish this post, here is a game for you

To which behavioral style do you attribute these verbatims?

“I get along well with the ‘reds’ because they can rely on me to take a step back.”

“I am often in opposition with my director who is intuitive and reacts quickly—me, I need facts and proof.”

“I can’t stand it when people think of themselves before the team.”

“I have a real frustration with rushing.”

“I am committed to thinking before acting.”

“Under pressure, I look at the steps, I know where we need to go so I stay calm.”

“Change? As long as it’s logical, there’s no problem.”

“I like change, avoiding routine, shaking things up.”

“Before undertaking something, I like to know where it will lead me.”

“I feel pride in my good management of priorities.”

“I am a more meticulous person than others. Maybe too much?”

Co-Dynamics offers the questionnaires and corresponding reports, and mor importantly a conversation both individually and as a team to capitalize on the method and accelerate your collective dynamics, at both the leadership team and managerial community levels.

For the sake of conciseness and confidentiality, this article was written after a vast number of debriefs on individual and team D.I.S.C. profiles in various organizations, on various dates.