What do Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, Melinda Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Oprah Winfrey, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Malala Yousafzai have in common? Well… maybe not all that much. They are from different backgrounds, living in different historical contexts, with different experiences, perspectives, strengths, and skills. They are/were, however, effective leaders.
Leaders are not cookie cutter, carbon copies of some ideal, nor do they all conform to some specific personality type or style. They are real, human – and often, fallible! That said, how does your DiSC personality style impact your leadership? And why is it important to delve in and understand more?
DiSC is a self-assessment tool utilized by millions in the business world to gain better understanding of their leadership style and insight into ways to improve communication, teamwork, productivity, and results.
Because we could all use another acronym in our lives: DiSC stands for four different personality styles:
(D) Dominance (or Drive). This might be the personality style that most people associate with “leaders.” They are competitive and motivated by winning and success These folks are typically action-oriented, results-driven, direct, strong-willed, and demanding. They never turn down a challenge, and they hate being seen as vulnerable or “weak.” Their leadership style is assertive and inspirational, but they can also lack patience or empathy.
(i) influence. Leaders who are primarily influencers are also action-oriented though they are more apt to prioritize teamwork and collaboration. They tend to be effective coaches and counselors and achieve results with their energy, optimism, and persuasion. While the Dominant leader wants to win, the influencer wants to be well-regarded and recognized. They may lack objectivity at times or have difficulty following through on decisions and tasks.
(S) Steadiness (or Support). People who have this dominant personality style focus on maintaining stability and providing support to their teams/coworkers. They tend to be calm, consistent, patient, and predictable. While they can be tremendously helpful and loyal, they can also be hesitant in the face of change, worried about offending others, or unwilling to discuss their own needs/feelings.
(C) Conscientiousness (or Clarity). Those with a primarily C style want to learn, develop, demonstrate their knowledge, and produce great work. They value accuracy and are often described as careful, analytic, and systematic. They lead from logic and may miss out on the nuances of emotion or others’ feelings or fail to consider more subjective “data.”
Learn more about each of the DiSC personality styles.
Most of us display some characteristics of each style, and we can call on different strengths as we make decisions in our work and lives. That said, we typically gravitate towards one particular style and operate within that “comfort zone.”
While we may think of a stereotypical leader as dominant and driving, the truth is that no one personality style is better than another. In fact, effective leaders need to be fluid in adapting their approach to the task or challenge at hand and to meet the needs of their teams. Using DiSC assessments, we can better understand our leadership style, identify strengths, and look for areas for improvement and growth. You can also pinpoint times and circumstances that call for a different approach.
For example, a Drive leader takes charge and works best in a high-energy, fast-paced, competitive atmosphere. This is ideally suited for staff that need strong and clear direction. However, if you have a veteran team with self-motivated members, they may resent the “my way or the highway” message you may be inadvertently conveying. In this case, it can be beneficial to you – and them – to slow down a beat. Ask questions, prioritize interactions, build relationships, and remind yourself to practice collaboration and patience.
Effective leaders flex to meet the changing needs of their teams and their businesses. Your leadership style should as well. Remaining “stuck” in one type of personality because that’s where you feel comfortable can keep your company stuck too.
Think of DiSC as a useful starting point on your leadership journey – not the end. It can give you the insights you need to develop into the leader your business needs. But it’s not the only route!
At Home Artisans of Indiana, you will find a community of peers, of leaders, of questioners, thinkers, and makers who are striving to improve too. We build better businesses, together. Find out more and join us.
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