Though February got off to such a cold start, hopefully you can think of the warmer side of work-how we build and nurture relationships. For many, once the Super Bowl is behind them, thoughts quickly turn to the next “holiday” Valentines Day. Whether in our work or personal relationships, it’s important to think about how we show up when we interact with those around us. This week, I’m kicking off a blog series “Behavior Matters” to take a look at the different ways our natural behaviors and preferences impact our productivity and relationships.
The Work of Dr. William Marston
The DISC behavioral assessment is based on the research of Dr. William Marston. Dr. Marston was an American psychologist who has had a far reaching effect on our lives today. He was the creator of the systolic blood pressure test, which became a key component of the modern polygraph. He wrote as an author under the name Charles Moulton and as a comic book writer, created my personal favorite character-Wonder Woman. I could fan girl a bit here, but I’ll get back to work. In 1928 he published a book Emotions of Normal People, which expanded on his DISC theory.
The DISC behavioral assessment I’m referencing today, measures how much each of the four styles Dr. Marston identified-Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance-show up in your profile.
Each style operates on a vertical continuum, with the top end being someone who is High in that style and the bottom end someone who is Low in that style. Having a high or low measure of each style tells a story and can impact the way you work with others. There are no right or wrong styles and each person under the right circumstances can adapt and display a measure of each style.
We all have at least one primary style that is ‘higher” than the others. Some folks have two or three high styles. In different circumstances, our primary preferences will influence how we problem solve, interact with others, manage changes in pace and deal with rules.
Each week I’ll spend time talking about each of four styles, some key characteristics, productivity strengths and potential time wasters. Please note that I will put a hyper-focus on each style to really emphasize its core characteristics. My examples are more like caricatures-both for your understanding and reading enjoyment. While I’ll be focusing on how these show up at work, feel free to apply what you need at home. After all, it’s February and love is in the air!
D for Dominance
This week, we’re talking about the Dominance factor.
The Dominance factor which we’ll refer to as being a D, is about how you approach problem solving and challenges. Some individuals are more active in problem solving, while others prefer to take their time to work out a solution. At the top end of the D continuum is the person who is a High D, we’ll call her Debra and at the bottom end, someone who is a Low D who we’ll call Danielle.
Debra-the High D
Debra may be described as a very direct, forceful person who can be aggressive in her communication style. Her friends will tell you that she is very blunt even at home. Her employees may consider her to be very demanding and think she has a temper that is quick to flare up when she gets impatient. Debra thrives when she has a problem to solve. She is not one for waiting on the side lines and likes to take action quickly. Sitting around in boring meetings while everyone talks about different options is just as painful to her as sticking a needle in her eye. Debra makes quick decisions, likes to take charge and wishes everyone else would catch up.
To be fair, Debra is great in crisis management. She has an ability to think on her feet and come up with creative solutions. A fast thinker, she can switch tasks quickly and does well in an environment where she can be a trailblazer. Debra is great at facing challenges. She is bold and courageous and can be a driven force of nature when she has a problem to solve. Debra is very task and goal oriented. Give her a target and she’ll do her best to hit it. She thinks quickly on her feet and will always look for the most efficient, effective way to get results.
Danielle-the Low D
Compared to Debra, Danielle may seem more passive, less confrontational and slower to anger. Danielle prefers to take her time when she is solving problems. Danielle’s team considers her to be more reserved and calculating. She is more approachable and more likely to sit and talk about different options when problem solving.
Danielle is a much slower decision maker and prefers to take the time to consider things from all angles.
She is not a fan of taking the fastest path to accomplish a task because mistakes can happen that way. Danielle likes to take her time when coming up with a plan of action and doesn’t like to jump right into things without having all the answers first. She approaches problem solving more strategically and appreciates a well thought out plan of action.
While taking time to consider possible consequences is important, Danielle may need a nudge or two to speed things.
Working with Debra & Danielle
If you have to work with a Debra, it’s helpful to communicate in bullet points. Get to the point, stick to the facts and give her what she needs to come up with a direction by herself. Know that she may set a lot of high risk goals, so you may have to help to minimize risk, but be careful not to stifle her. Help her keep things on track with written documentation. Debra will make a lot of snap decisions, so quality control will be key. She talks to think, but be mindful of not having too many meetings. Debra gets distracted when she is bored.
Danielle on the other hand can benefit from being a little more spontaneous. Encourage her to gather her facts and set deadlines to make decision making happen more quickly. Her measured approach to decision making will save the team from costly mistakes resulting from quick decisions. Danielle likes having information to guide her thinking. She will get frustrated in an environment where decisions are made quickly without considering all the options. Help her to process her tasks quickly and give her support to build her confidence as she accepts more challenges.
Are you More Like Debra or Danielle?
How strong is your D? Are you an action-taking trailblazer like Debra waiting for folks to catch up? Or are you more like Danielle-taking your time and wishing everyone else would slow down?
While I painted a strong picture of what the High and Low D styles are like, very few people are just one style-most of us have a two or three styles that are more dominant. Our behavior and preferences are going to be influenced by the particular blend of styles.
You can learn more about your individual profile by booking a DISCover your Style Strategy Session. You’ll get access to complete the validated DISC assessment, receive a comprehensive report detailing your primary behavioral style, motivators and driving forces and get a 1:1 Strategy session with me! In our 1:1 we’ll review your style and come up with an action plan (at your pace) to help you leverage your DISC strengths and adjust for any areas of improvement.
I’ll send you a follow up email with details and next steps.