DISC Assessment Key to Unveil Leader’s Achilles Heel

Behavioural assessments help uncover interesting insights about a person’s behaviour. Our suite of assessment tools includes one such assessment DISC which when combined with our Motivators or Driving Forces Assessment provides tremendously valuable insights. The information gained from an assessment such as DISC can be used to improve performance or help a person find a job that may be a better fit for their natural abilities.

Understanding the Model

You can get more info on the DISC Assessment here. However, let’s explore the graph here to give you a better understanding of the highs and the lows (see DISC graphic). There is a midline (also known as the energy line) at 50 and any factor above is considered “high” and any factor below is considered “low.” High is not good and low is not bad – this is just a continuum. If you fall in the “extreme” range (0-10 or 90-100), these factors are much easier to observe but more difficult to adapt. If you fall in the “tends to be” range (40-50) these factors are harder to observe but much easier to adapt up and down depending on the situation.

D assesses how you approach PROBLEMS and CHALLENGES: If you are above the midline, you are more FORCEFUL (jump in and address issues immediately). If you are below the midline, you are more ACCOMMODATING (think it through, ask questions, make sure everyone agrees).

I assesses how you influence PEOPLE to your point of view: If you are above the midline, you are more OPTIMISTIC (excited, persuasive, and convincing). If you are below the midline, you are more LOGICAL (factual, sceptical, more of a realist).

S assesses how you respond to change and PACE: If you are above the midline, you are more STEADY (thoughtful, methodical, don’t enjoy quick change). If you are below the midline, you are more DRIVING (multitasker, very flexible, open to change).

C assesses how you respond to rules and PROCEDURES set by others: If you are above the midline, you are more COMPLIANT (follow rules, detail-oriented, perfectionist). If you are below the midline, you are more INDEPENDENT (an out-of-the-box thinker who may ignore “unnecessary” rules).

Your Strengths can become a Vulnerability

So often, what endears a leader to others can become their very undoing. Someone with urgency and precision can be a master at completing tasks but may find themselves lacking when it comes to the human element. Someone else who is supportive and caring may have a hard time having difficult conversations when these conversations need to be had. While others who are great with details and processes may tend to be methodical micromanagers. For every yin, there is a yang and uncovering those vulnerabilities can help shore up a leader’s ability to rally his or her team to become engaged and highly productive.

Example #1 – High Directive with Low People Skills (High D/C and low I/S)

Phil is a young professional with high potential who works in the operations department of a mid-sized company. Phil’s boss thinks he is fantastic because he gets everything done quickly and with great precision, which makes the boss look good. Although Phil is already in a management role, his boss would like to see him promoted to a higher leadership position.

All is not perfect though. One of Phil’s direct reports recently left the company and there are complaints from others about his management style. The claim is he has unrealistic expectations, is overly critical, condescending and does not care about them personally. I have been asked by Phil’s boss to assess and possibly provide coaching to him on his “people skills”.

As I began to work with Phil, it was evident his “get it done now (D) and get it done right (C)” style has its benefits, but also some vulnerabilities. When working with someone who has a very intense dominance and compliance personality, it’s all about completing the task quickly and to perfection. A person with this type of behavioural combination can set expectations so high, they may never be met. Before long, the staff become disengaged because they feel they are fighting an uphill battle they can never win.

Phil and I worked on his demands of his staff and his ability to use a more consultative and collaborative style with them. We explored ways in which he could become a little more invested in them and include them in the setting of standards and ways to achieve goals and desired outcomes. He is slowly becoming more connected with his staff.

Phil has begun to delegate more and to take a personal interest in those for whom he has responsibility. And that little shift in thinking from his “Direct Reports” to “Those for whom he has responsibility”, made the world of difference in Phil’s outlook, expectations and communication and management style and practices.

Building connections with his staff went a long way towards Phil’s success although it was challenging at first – he said he felt disingenuous, because he just wasn’t the kind of person interested in small talk, however, once he took the time to find common interests (i.e. kids playing sports) it no longer felt like he was forcing small talk and instead has begun looking forward to the conversations.

Example #2 – Supportive and caring, but averse to confrontation (High I/S and low D/C)

Jenny is a new manager in a fast-paced work environment. She was promoted because of her customer service skills and how willing she is to always help others when needed. Everyone loves working for her, especially since the former manager was known to be a bit forceful and direct.

While Jenny is well-liked and respected, her team was not meeting the metrics needed to be successful and were starting to get customer complaints. Her boss suspected that Jenny was not holding her staff accountable and not having the needed performance conversations. Complicating matters was the fact that staff for whom she now has responsibility were her peers just a couple of months ago and going from peer to leader has been somewhat of a challenge for Jenny.

During a recent team dynamics session, the team was asked to share what they appreciate most about Jenny. It’s evident how much her friendship and support is of value to them.

The next phase of the team dynamics session had the group engage in an exercise which required each person to share with Jenny exactly what they need from her to be successful in their role. Majority of the group commented that issues were not being confronted directly and tough decisions required were not being made fast enough. These were creating delays and negatively impacting working with their clients. There was also a common undertone that Jenny was not addressing some team issues which is creating some teamwork issues.

Jenny through hard work and candid conversations has come to recognize and acknowledge that her positive and connective (I), as well as her caring and supportive (S) style that has gained her admiration of her staff and colleagues, are the very same attributes that are keeping her from helping her team produce the results for which they are accountable. Jenny has come to understand that people want and need feedback and performance conversations (even the negative ones) to grow in their roles and performance. She realizes having these conversations increases her credibility with the very people that adore her and helps her become more ineffective as a leader.

Conclusion

Both the examples above feature people who were doing well before using DISC and coaching, however, high performing leaders are always looking to improve. Although it’s often easier to observe how a leader’s strengths contribute to results, it’s more difficult for them to accept and take action to change those behaviours that limit their success.

Increasing your awareness of these vulnerabilities may be the most important part of the process as these vulnerabilities can be the Achilles Heel to the leader. Understanding behaviour styles help a leader choose behaviours that contribute more to their effectiveness and success, especially when they are willing and able to adapt their behaviours to fit the needs of those for whom they have responsibility.

Nowshad (Shad) Ali, CPBA, CPVA, TriMetrixHD, CEQA, CFRE

President, On Purpose Leadership

Highly rated coach, facilitator, trainer and speaker.

Expert in organization growth, individual and team excellence and hiring and retaining top talent.

4 Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is defined as an individual’s ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate higher levels of collaboration and productivity. Emotional intelligence is often referred to as emotional quotient (EQ) as the terms are interchangeable.

Regardless of where a person is today on the EQ scale, emotional intelligence can be improved. It takes a concentrated effort, a desire to become more aware and an active attempt at restraint when facing conflict. But with a combination of awareness and self-discipline, EQ can change relatively quickly. While there are many different factors that can influence EQ, today we observe 4 ways to improve emotional intelligence.

Research shows that successful leaders and superior performers have well developed emotional intelligence skills. This makes it possible for them to work well with a wide variety of people and to respond effectively to the rapidly changing conditions in the business world. In fact, a person’s emotional intelligence may potentially be a better predictor of performance success than intelligence alone.

Emotional Intelligence is accurately measured through assessments. A person answers a series of questions, and in doing so, earns a specific score for each of the five individual sub-categories that make up EQ. Additionally, they receive an overall EQ score. Just as a person can increase their IQ through learning, a person can improve their EQ scores by focusing on specific areas of EQ.

  1. Becoming more self-aware

The more you become aware of your emotions and drives, the more you can control those things. Part of being self-aware is understanding the effect you have on others. Self-awareness boils down to being able to recognize when you are in a proper frame of mind.

Self-awareness starts within each person and it starts with a series of questions. To hone in on your self-awareness, ask yourself:

  • How am I feeling?
  • At this very moment, do things feel easy or difficult?
  • Do I have a smile or a frown on my face, and why?

You cannot address any social aspect of EQ without first being aware of what’s going on inside yourself. If your mindset is altered to the negative, chances are your interactions will be, as well. Once you are consciously aware of what’s going on inside of you, you can move on to the next stage of emotional intelligence, self-regulation.

  1.   Increasing self-regulation

Self-regulation speaks to the ability to suspend judgement in a moment of stress and thinking before acting. Defined, it is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods. Self-regulation is a person’s ability to modify their own mood when they become self-aware of a disruptive mindset.

I don’t have to go far to find an example of someone who has benefitted from learning a little self-regulation. For years, I was the poster child of how not act when put in stressful situations. As someone who is honest to a fault and doesn’t like to bottle emotions, I had a propensity to voice my opinions regardless of whether or not they were solicited. And, if I felt I was in any way under attack, those opinions would turn into defences. Rational conversation could quickly turn into verbal sparring as a defence mechanism.

So many times I realized, much too late, that if I just let a little time go by, what seemed like a crisis then would later become an afterthought. This realization is an example of increasing one’s self-regulation. The process is two-fold: the act of first recognizing the need and then acting upon it for the greater good.

A few questions to ask yourself include:

  • Does this issue need to be addressed right this minute?
  • In the grand scheme of things, how important is this really?
  • Am I able to walk away from the situation to gain time and perspective?
  1.   Becoming more socially aware

A person with social awareness has the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people and how their words and actions affect others. It’s the ability to assess how they are communicating or may communicate with others.

We may have the best intentions. We wake in the morning and we want to treat everyone with respect. We want to be thought of in a positive way and plan to experience nothing but friendly interactions. And that all goes out the window when stress arrives. Whether the people we are communicating with are the cause of the stress or not, communicating when you’re not in the proper frame of mind can come with consequences and negative outcomes.

It can be as slight as facial expressions, mannerisms, body language or tone of voice. An observant person can gauge our mood and attitude before we even say our first word! Just like a math equation that has a definite starting and end point, EQ works in a similar fashion. Once a person becomes self-aware first and self-regulated next, they need to take those skills and use them outwardly in social interactions. These skills come in handy especially during stressful situations.

In trying to become more socially aware, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does my outward expression say to someone?
  • How would someone interpret my body language?
  • Am I projecting my emotions through my tone of voice?
  1.   Improving social regulation

Social regulation involves the ability to influence the emotional clarity of others through a proficiency in managing relationships and building networks.

It’s very easy to be the life of the party when everyone is having a good time. A person with strong social regulation can be just as well-liked and respected during times of stress because they are able to control their reactions to the stress stimuli.

Think back over your career and picture a boss or bosses for which you had a great detail of respect. What were some of their characteristics? It’s likely they were fair, respectful, even-keeled and thoughtful. Chances are, what you’ll recall most about them is their consistent nature by which they communicated to you and your coworkers. Their consistency had a calming effect on you.

The more a person can regulate their social situations, the more successful they will likely be. It’s pretty simple really. Do you buy from a salesperson who is pushy or one who makes a personal connection with you? Do you go to a doctor that treats you like a number, or one that takes time to get to the heart of the matter? The better our interactions with others, the more successful we will be at whatever we want to accomplish, regardless if that’s closing a big sale or making a new friend.

Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Am I being respectful at this moment?
  • Am I hearing the entire story before passing judgement?
  • Is it possible that things aren’t really as they might appear to be on the surface?

Evolution of EQ

Just as we strive to increase our knowledge, wealth and interesting life stories, we can increase our EQ with a conscious effort. Bad habits are not formed overnight nor are they fixed that quickly. It doesn’t matter what our upbringing was, for whom we worked or what life was like on the playground when we were kids. It’s up to each of us to make a conscious decision to improve our EQ. If we take the lead and put in the effort, our EQ will rise, and very likely, also will our success in all walks of life.

On Purpose Leadership Note: Thanks to Dave Clark TTI Success Insights Staff writer for this article. On Purpose Leadership is an Approved Provider partner of TTI Success Insights.

Strategic Mindset of Excellent Managers

A Manager performing at the excellence level maintains a strategic mindset. This means they are asking the questions:

  • What is the business trying to accomplish?
  • How must it position itself in the market? and relative to its competitors?
  • Has the Strategy changed or is it likely to soon? What forces might affect/impact it most (likelihood and significance)?
  • How does my role (unit or function) contribute to our company’s competitive advantage?
  • What must each of my people contribute to our competitive advantage?
  • How does my unit impact or affect the company’s strategy?
  • Are we on the appropriate gates of focus sequence: (Profit; People; Process)?
  • Am I applying the appropriate leadership modality to propel my team forward?
  • Do I and my team access and maximize use of our greatest talents continually and bringing out the best in ourselves and others?
Strategic Mindset maximizes Skill, Potential and Performance intersection

Excellent Managers with a strategic mindset marry Potential and Skill to bring out the best performance

We have tools that can help with effectiveness in this realm. Check out our:

 

To Quote Vineet Nayar “Three differences between managers and leaders are:

Counting value vs Creating value. You’re probably counting value, not adding it, if you’re managing people. Only managers count value; some even reduce value by disabling those who add value.  Leaders focus on creating value, saying: “I’d like you to handle A while I deal with B.” He or she generates value over and above that which the team creates, and is as much a value-creator as his or her team.

Circles of influence vs Circles of power. Managers create circles of power while leaders create circles of influence. The quickest way to figure out which of the two you’re doing is to count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more that do, the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.

Leading people vs Managing work. Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control.”