DISCover Your Leadership Potential

Many of the leading psychometric assessments have been designed with recruitment in mind. Is the candidate suitable for this role?

This is a poor use of psychometric assessments.

DISC does not advocate suitability, but rather looks wider afield at ‘how’ someone is likely to interact with their environment, and so not can they do the role but ‘how’ they are likely to do a role.



If we look back at the newly developing fields of medicine, and the new fields of psychology and psychiatry in particular, we can see that most professionals in the early 20th century where trying to gain a better understanding of illness and deviance.

Dr. William Marston, however, took a different tack and decided he wanted to investigate normal people in normal situations. He published his work, The Emotions of Normal People, in 1928. It was here Dr. Marston elaborated on his DISC theory. The key being our perception and interaction with the environment we find ourselves in.

The key questions to be posed were:

  • Is this a favourable or unfavourable environment?
  • Do I have the power to change or control this environment?

This is the foundations of DISC: Dominant, Influencer, Steadiness, Conscientious.

It is important to recognize that DISC is not about labelling people. DISC is about recognizing we all have predictable ways of behaving in particular situations. But we can practice the use of other personality traits to support us in different environments and situations through raising our self-awareness. We are able to do this because we are each a ‘blend’ of personality styles, usually having one dominant and one secondary trait.

So let’s look at each of the traits individually.

D – Dominant

  • Anyone of a certain age reading this might have heard the Frank Sinatra song ‘I did it my way.’ That could very well be the D mantra.  People who have a high D trait are outgoing and task orientated. These people tend to be Decisive, Determined, Driven, Doers.

I – Influencer

  • People who show a high I trait are outgoing and people orientated. These people tend to be Inspirational, Interactive, Innovators, Interested. They will be motivated by gaining recognition, being upbeat and having fun. Kool and the Gang’s ‘Celebrate good times’ being the only place to be for a high I.

S – Steadiness

  • People with a high S trait are more reserved and people orientated. There motto is likely to be the great Musketeer’s refrain ‘All for one and one for all’.  These people tend to be Supportive, Sincere, Stable and Security driven.

C – Conscientious

  • People who have a high C trait are more reserved and task orientated. These people tend to be Competent, Careful, Concerned, Critical thinkers. They will be motivated by the pursuit of excellence and doing things right. Their approach will be to follow clearly defines systems and procedures.

There are numerous leadership frameworks. Whether we consider Daniel Goleman’s 6 Leadership Styles, Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, or The 8 Dimensions of Leadership which takes a very clear DISC approach we can see there are many correlations between them. What they all have in common is an understanding that no one leadership style is appropriate for all situations and environments. So using psychometric assessments as a measure of ‘suitable’ alone is inappropriate.

Yet when we match this to the fixed approach to leadership we see in many businesses and organisations across all sectors and sizes, and in the wider arena of politics, is it any wonder there is a growing sense of bafflement and concern for all our futures.

What is fascinating though is that each of the leadership frameworks can be clumped into four distinct headings that correlate to the ‘rule of four’ and the DISC traits Dominant, Influencer, Steadiness and Conscientious, underscored by emotional stability. So if we take our four DISC headings as a starting point, might using our ‘blend’ of traits through conscious adaptation support good to great leadership?

For someone with a main D – Dominant trait, the key blends are likely to be with an I – Influencer or a C – Conscientious. Both offer some great additional strengths, such as, adding an extra element of boldness and optimism through a touch of I. Or a level of logic and eye for detail through a touch of C. It is a dose of S – Steadiness trait though that could offer a real ‘humble’ demeanour that might help our D most.

For someone with a main I – Influencer trait, the key blends are likely to be with a D – Dominant or an S – Steadiness. Both offer some great additional strengths, such as, adding an extra element of directness and a doer’s finisher/ completer approach through a touch of D. Or a level of stability and empathy through a touch of S. It is a touch of C – Conscientious trait though that could offer a real ‘focus’ often missing in our I.

For someone with a main S – Steadiness trait, the key blends are likely to be with an I – Influencer or a C – Conscientious. Both offer some great additional strengths, such as, stepping up the pace and bringing an optimism to the organization through a touch of I. Or greater planning and a drive for quality through a touch of C. It is a dose of D – Dominant trait though that could offer a real willingness to ‘challenge underperformance’ sometimes missing from our S.

For someone with a main C – Conscientious trait, the key blends are likely to be with an S – Steadiness or a D – Dominant. Both offer some great additional strengths, such as, much needed people skills and empathy through a touch of S. Or a level of pace and decisiveness through a touch of D. It is an element of I – Influencer trait though that could offer an ‘positivity’ that can stop our C descending into critical overdrive.

Bringing it all together

Irrespective of which personality traits our leaders have the lynch pin for all development is spending more time getting to grips with your own and your teams blends. This way you will be better able to direct the energy flow and relationship networks within the business “the accumulation of those expensive things called brains that generally walk around on two legs” as Swart, Chisholm and Brown who wrote Neuroscience for Leadershipnote. This is where personality profiling comes of age.

DISC is an extremely powerful tool that has the potential, especially when further strengthened by new findings in the brain sciences, to drive personal, team and leadership development. “They say that the only true and able helper is one that has suffered themselves. Someone who has found their own way out of the ‘hole’ –discovering and using tools that work – who is then in a position to pass-it-on. Only when you have it can you start giving it away to others. This is precisely what Robert is doing in DISCover the Power of You: How to cultivate change for positive and productive cultures – Take notice and believe, its powerful stuff!” Peter Mitchell, Yorkshire in Business

Pre-order my book DISCover the Power of You: How to Cultivate Change for Positive and Productive Cultures  due for publication through John Hunt Publishing Ltd in August 2017.

See my Online Course Offer: http://robertadams.teachable.com/

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Robert Adams
I am Author of ‘DISCover the Power of You’, soon to be published through John Hunt Publishing. I am also a Speaker, having spoken on art, business and self-transformational issues. I am a highly experienced Trainer. I analyse, design and deliver learning and development programs, including a range of leadership and management aspects, equality and diversity, coaching and importantly DISC personality profiling that can focus on customer service, sales or communications. I use DISC as my starting point because it’s the simplest yet most robust model offering specific solutions at all levels. I have a Master in Fine Art, a Master in Education specialising in Leadership and Management, a Master in Diversity, Culture and Identity, a PGCE in Further Education. I also have a Prince2 Registered Practitioner Certificate in Project Management, am a Stress Management Trainer and am a Licensed DISC Trainer, licensed through The Coaching Academy.

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