DISC (Dominance, Influence, Conscientiousness, and Steadiness) is a behaviour assessment tool created by psychologist William Moulton Marston. The assessment centres on four different behavioural traits: dominance, influence, submission, and compliance. This theory was then developed into a behavioural assessment tool by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke. The creator of this instrument Marston was a lawyer and a psychologist; he also contributed to the first polygraph test (lie detector). Marston authored self-help books and created the character Wonder Woman (a comic character of super heroine).
His major contribution to psychology came when he generated the DISC characteristics of emotions and behaviour of normal people. Marston, after conducting research on human emotions, he published his findings in his 1928 book called Emotions of Normal People in which he explained that people illustrate their emotions using four behaviour types: Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C). Also, he argued that these behavioural types came from people’s sense of self and their interaction with the environment. He included two dimensions that influence people’s emotional behaviour. The first dimension is whether a person views his environment as favourable or unfavourable. The second dimension is whether a person perceives himself as having control or lack of control over his environment. His work was the foundation of the DISC assessment that has been used by more than 50 million people since it was first introduced in 1972.
In 1956, Walter Clarke, an industrial psychologist, constructed the DISC assessment using Marston’s theory of the DISC model. He did this by publishing the Activity Vector Analysis, a checklist of adjectives on which he asked people to indicate descriptions that were accurate about themselves. This assessment was intended for use in businesses needing assistance in choosing qualified employees. About 10 years later, Walter Clarke Associates developed a new version of this instrument for John Cleaver (fantasy character of serial killer created by Dan Wells). It was called Self Description. Instead of using a checklist, this test forced respondents to make a choice between two or more terms. Factor analysis of this assessment added to the support of a DISC-based instrument.
The DiSC profile is a non-judgemental tool used for conversation of people’s behavioural differences. If you participate in a DiSC program, you’ll be asked to complete a series of questions that produce a detailed report about your personality and behaviour.
The DiSC tool provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and adapt their behaviours with others – within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships. DiSC profiles help you and your team members.
Dominance: People with streak of dominance stress on accomplishing results and goals. They see big picture, they are usually blunt – they talk out their feelings easily, they are always ready to accept challenges, and without much ado they get straight to the point.
People with the D style place an emphasis on shaping the environment by overcoming opposition to accomplish results.
A person with a D style is motivated by winning, competition and success. He prioritizes accepting challenge, taking action and achieving immediate results. He is described as direct, demanding, and forceful, strong willed, driven, and determined, fast-paced, and self-confident etc, etc. At times, he may be limited by lack of concern for others, impatience and open scepticism. He often fears being seen as vulnerable or being taken advantage of. His goals are unique accomplishments, he sees new opportunities, and he tends to control the audience. He requires independence to expend work environment. When communicating with the D style individuals, give them the bottom line, be brief, focus your discussion narrowly, avoid making generalizations, refrain from repeating yourself, and focus on solutions rather than problems.
Leadership style of D personality: Commanding, Resolute, Pioneering.
Influence: People who are influencers place emphasis on influencing or persuading others in work place or in relationship. They are enthusiasts, optimistic, and they like to collaborate. They dislike being ignored. A person with i style may be limited by being impulsive and confused. He may lack follow-ups but he is convincing, magnetic, enthusiastic, warm, trusting and optimistic. He prioritizes taking action, collaboration, and expressing enthusiasm. He is motivated by social recognition, group activities, and relationships. He may fear loss of influence, disapproval and being ignored. He values coaching and counselling. He enjoys freedom of expression and democratic relationships. He also speaks directly and candidly.
When communicating with the i style individual, share your experiences, allow the i style person time to ask questions and talk themselves, focus on the positives, avoid overloading them with details, and don’t interrupt them.
Leadership style of i personality: Energizing, Pioneering, and Affirming.
Steadiness: Person with S style places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, dependability. He doesn’t like to be rushed into doing anything. He comes across as a calm person. He is supportive in nature. People with the S style place an emphasis on cooperating with others within existing circumstances to carry out the task. A person with an S style is motivated by cooperation, opportunities to help and sincere appreciation. He prioritizes giving support, collaborating and maintaining stability. He comes across as a calm man who is predictable and stable. He is consistent in nature. His limitations are indecisiveness, overly accommodating and tendency to avoid change. He fears change, loss of stability and offending others. But, he values loyalty, helping others and security.
His personal goals are personal accomplishments, group acceptance, power through formal roles and positions of authority and he prefers maintenance of status quo and controlled environment.
When communicating with the S style individuals, be personal and friendly, express your interest in them and what you expect from them, take time to provide clarification, be polite, and avoid being aggressive, or rude.
Leadership Style of S Personality: Inclusive, Humble, Affirming.
Conscientiousness: People with streak of conscientiousness place emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency. They enjoy independence. They are clear in their objectives and they have clear reasons for all their actions.
They have an eye for details and they fear being wrong. People with the C style place an emphasis on working conscientiously within existing circumstances to ensure quality and accuracy. A person with a C style is motivated by opportunities to gain knowledge, showing their expertise, and quality work. They prioritize ensuring accuracy, maintaining stability, and challenging assumptions. They can be described as careful, cautious, systematic, diplomatic, accurate and tactful. C style people can be limited by being overcritical, overanalyzing and isolating themselves. They fear criticism and committing mistakes. The C style people value quality and accuracy
Leadership Style of C personality: Deliberateness, Humble, Resolute.
Conclusion: Many studies have shown that careful analyses of personality throughout life reveal a core of traits that remain remarkably stable over the years and a number of other traits that can change drastically from age to age and situation to situation. One of the new studies has shown that three basic aspects of personality change little throughout life: a person’s anxiety level, friendliness and eagerness for novel experiences. But other traits, such as isolation, morale and feelings of satisfaction, can vary greatly as a person goes through life. These more changeable traits largely reflect such things as how a person sees himself and his life at a given point, rather than a basic underlying temperament.
The DiSC personality assessment shows blend of characteristics of personality in different situations and different roles in life. We cannot be the same everywhere; in place of work we are different than when we are at home.
Real intelligence is to recognise what roles you play in life and to make conscious efforts to play them with requiring traits to play them well. For example, at work place you might be a conscientious worker but while playing with your child the role demands to be an influencer. So, set times for changing between the various roles and this requires
a keen effort.