Do you ever wish that you could wave a magic wand and suddenly your team would understand all that you want to say, your intentions and your goals behind it? Or maybe you wish you’d have telepathy and understand how your co-workers prefer to handle different projects so you can create an enjoyable working environment?

As coaches, we might say that the key lies in understanding how people prefer to communicate. 

And thankfully, we have the key to this people puzzle – the DISC behavioural model. 

In our search for these answers, we sat down with DISC Master Trainer Dave Pill hoping he’d uncover some of the underlying patterns of behaviour that can emerge in each of us. 

We talked about how these behavioural patterns show up in leadership positions but discovering how your co-workers and your team prefer to communicate and handle their tasks can be a life changer! 

Now you don’t have to wonder why George likes to take his time to complete that important task you needed yesterday or why David just has to be in charge of all the projects. You’ll understand why Sarah is starting a meeting with a story from the weekend again and why Karen wants to do just get this done the proper way.  

Understanding DISC can be a very powerful tool for anyone working with people. Everyone is different, but with DISC, you can see that everyone is predictably different. 

There are four personality components to the DISC behavioural model. Take a look at how each will show up in a team environment. 

1. D- Dominant 

Motto: If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing now. 

Key indications that you are a D: 

You prefer to take charge of a project, you take on leadership roles fairly easily and you like the authority that comes with it. You are focused on the bottom line, goal-oriented, you see the big picture and like to get things done quickly. You can also be quite competitive. When it comes to emails, you probably prefer bullet points. 

What does a D personality look like in a team?

You will find this personality leading the project, more often than not. They have a tendency to focus on getting things done so they will be quick to assign the tasks everyone needs to accomplish., ‘I think we should’ is often heard in a meeting and they will be focused on getting the job done quickly, sometimes in the detriment of the collaborative environment.

How to show up for your team?

D personality types tend to miss the details because they’re so focused on the big picture and getting the job done quickly. Try to be aware of this next time you’re working with your team on a project and use it to your advantage. Your preference might be to be less collaborative but try fostering a team spirit by letting others, who are more inclined, to deal with the details. You might find yourself dismissing people who are not on board with your opinions but challenge yourself to clarify the team’s goals and you’ll find that it will make a big difference for you and your team. 

What’s the best approach in working with a D?

Because this personality has a high preference for speed, try to match them in both pace and respectful directness. Don’t be afraid to bring energy into your conversations but avoid waffling, try to get to the point and if you have a problem, be prepared to present a solution with it. Even if you are communicating through email, be succinct – they will ask for more details if they wish to know more. 

2. I – Influencer 

Motto: I want to have fun getting things done. 

Key indicators that you’re an I:
You love to tell stories, whether in the break room or your presentations. You integrate metaphors, give examples and you might have a friend on every floor, in the coffee shop and on the tube in the morning. You might feel optimistic by default, sometimes overly so and you find yourself easily distracted. You prefer to work with others in a team and you’ll be focused on having a fun time while doing it. 

What does an I personality look like in a team?  
You will find the I personality creating a fun, collaborative environment, interacting with others. They like to be involved in many things, in varied activities but they might struggle with seeing things through. You might have challenges getting your word in when they start talking and you might notice that they tend to talk a lot about themselves. 

How to show up for your team if you’re an I? 
Make sure you bring a pen and paper – or a laptop – and write down your tasks so you don’t forget them. Because you have a tendency to get easily distracted and overly optimistic, set realistic deadlines and jot down the important tasks you committed to, otherwise it won’t get done. 

What’s the best approach in working with an I?
People with a primary I personality might struggle with lack of attention to detail and might get easily distracted through a tedious project – so you will have to make sure that the work is not all fun and things get done. Find creative ways to stay on track, agree to deadlines and commit to following through. This personality is named influencer for a reason, they are often charming and persuasive so be careful not to let yourself be taken in by the overly optimistic, charismatic behaviour. 

3. S – Supportive

Motto: T.E.A.M – Together Everyone Achieves More

Key indicators that you’re an S:
You like to get things done but you focus on the needs of others around you. You finish what you start and you might not like the idea of multitasking, you prefer to do things one by one. You prefer a predictable work environment and you like to be prepared for meetings, instead of coming up with ideas and key points on the spot. You might also prefer a win-win situation and you often wonder when conflict arises ‘why can’t we all just get along?’

What does an S personality look like in a team?
This personality type can and will be your biggest supporter through any project. They focus on doing things that will benefit the whole team, are great listeners and people are often drawn to them to confide as they can appear quite trustworthy because of this. But be careful not to mistake kindness for weakness – S’s can hold a grudge like no one else and they can develop an award-winning passive resistance. Because their preference is to go slow and steady, they will try to slow things down if they feel things are going too fast, sometimes to the detriment of the project. If they can clearly see the benefits of a project for everyone involved, however, they will probably be much more willing to pick up the pace.  

How to show up for your team?
The best habit that you can develop for your team meeting is the habit of speaking up, especially when it comes to saying no (in a nice way of course).  S personalities have a tendency to say ‘yes’ to people because they are team players and want to be supportive. This can lead to an overwhelming workload and so it is important to get used to saying ‘no’ from time to time. S styles often internalize feelings and this passive resistance can come across as reluctance – where someone is asking you to do something and you nod in agreement,  smile and you’re thinking to yourself ‘I’m never going to do that’ in the hope the task will just go away.

What’s the best approach in working with an S?
You will be a beloved team member if you focus on face to face interactions with an S and you focus on building a personal rapport with them at the beginning of your meetings. This personality type wants to feel that they are valued as a person so take the time to ask them about their weekend or vacation from time to time. Before important meetings, send them the agenda so they can prepare and if you need them to speak up, ask them beforehand. Give them the option of sharing their views but take the pressure off by giving them notice first. 

4. C – Correctness  

Motto: If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. 

Key indications that you are a C: 
You prefer to work on your own and do it methodically. You like to test the waters, to weigh the risks and benefits, analyse the steps to make sure you covered all your questions. You are focused on the job that needs to be done and you enjoy tracking key measures throughout the process. 

What does a C personality look like in a team?
The C personality will most likely be one of the more analytical people in the team. They will come up with frameworks and processes and they will tend to stick the guidelines throughout the work. Because they focus on the task, they can come across as cold even though that’s not their intention. They excel at creating automated processes and they can be detail-oriented to the point of stubbornness. 

How to show up for your team?
As any patterns of behaviour, it will be helpful to be aware of any tendencies of rigidity. Recognize the strength of your coworkers and focus on how those strengths can help get the job done.  

What’s the best approach in working with a C?
Be prepared and take notes. In written correspondence check your grammar and be prepared to validate any statements you make. A C personality will seek proof of all that you say, especially if they are in a leadership position. Having a ‘feeling’ that all is well is not good enough. 

As different as we all are, we all have a few predictable patterns of behaviour that can make life easier in the office, with clients or at home. 

This is what the DISC model offers us – a key to unlocking the secrets of relationships. By getting to know your team a little bit better, you can all focus on your strengths and you can foster an environment that is productive and stress-free for all co-workers.  

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