Leaders Personality Matters


You will benefit from knowing the differences between personalities when working with people. There are several different types in circulation today and personality analyzing has been a field of research for a long time, traced back to ancient civilizations over 5000 years ago. Philosophers and leaders have been trying to understand human behavior up to date. This is also a field that I find very interesting. You can read a personality or behavioral test without any benefit. You need to know a little history before you understand the full potential of these tests.

Personality and Behavior

There is a slight difference between personality and behavior, still both are interlinked with each other. I am focusing on the DISC test today as I use this in my work. The DISC test is based on a mix of four different characteristics. This theory about the four temperaments is traced back to the Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations over 5000 years ago *. Ezekiel (590BC) defined the four temperaments as Lion, Ox, Man, Eagle (bold, sturdy, humane, far-seeing). And as time went by, it all formed the DISC test and several other tests commonly used today.

* http://www.businessballs.com/personalitystylesmodels.htm A great resource and further reading to understand more about personalities.

DISC model

D = Dominance I = Influence S = Steadiness C = Compliance

This leads me further in my claim that each company needs two kinds of leaders. A strong D and a strong I. Why? Who manage to inspire the people around them? This is the outgoing active people person that is represented in the Influence category. This people speak in images, they are great salespeople and know how to inspire and persuade. On the negative path the I-group is more dreamers and has trouble converting ideas into action. Their good friend D on the other hand task-oriented, result oriented and gets things done. The D on the other hand is not a people person and do not understand why people don’t have the same drive for results, feelings is unimportant for a strong D.

Why D and I Work Well Together

They need to know about each other’s flaws and strengths to get the best out of their companionship. If there is a meeting the “D” can handle numbers and “I” can handle the vision and pep-talk. Without the “I” the “D” will talk about numbers and results and demand improvements. How many employees are motivated by looking at graphs displaying the fall in market share? Without the “D”, the “I” will rally the crowd into a cheering and fighting spirit, they will take part in the dream and lack touch of reality as described by a good “D”. The “D” can bring the numbers; the “I” can talk about what to do now. If you look at successful companies you will probably find pairs of “I” and “D”. You find them at Apple and Microsoft. They might be hard to spot as the “I” like to be in media and “D” just wants to get things done behind the scenes.

Why One Might Fail Alone

The “D” is not a good people person, they are phlegmatic. They cannot motivate an employee that is an “I”, because the “I” is motivated by personal approval and praise, as you probably understand the “D” does not care about that. Further you will have “S” and “C” people in your ranks. The “S” is motivated by time and space to get things done properly. The “D” will tend to rush things. The “C” is detail oriented and driven by perfection and truth. The “C” on the other hand might enjoy the numbers from the “D”, but fear the uncertainty in the dreams and visions of the “I”.

By understanding these kinds of personalities you will have a great tool at your hand on how to talk to people. I have experienced that my message failed because of this, and an adjustments to the message create great results. You will also have a map when putting the right person in the right place with the right tasks. Getting the “I” to do routine work will not work in the long run.

You are a Combination of These

You are not either one or the other. When taking a DISK test you will get a % score like this: D:37% I:44% S:65% C:79% – This person is a strong “C” with a lot of “S” – This person fears change and unpredictability. You are not exclusively just one of the four. Most people have one dominant with one or two supporting types.

My Opinion

I have been thinking about Inspire to Action Leadership lately and need to follow up with this post. If you read Inspire to Action Leadership you will remember the difference between the “What” and the “Why”. The “I” leader is the one that knows “Why”, and the “D” leader is the one that knows “What”
In my opinion a dual leadership is the best way to go when it comes to achieving success.

Other DISC resources

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2 Comments on "Leaders Personality Matters"

  1. Frode Heimen | July 24, 2010 at 8:12 am |

    Hi David.
    I have tested both the DiSC and Big Five, I can’t find anything in the Big Five that I won’t find in the DiSC test. I also thought when I took the Big Five that it is easier to manipulate the results according to what I want the results to be. I have found that the DiSC test compiled with Dr. Seligmans optimism test is a good measure. I guess personality test might be like driving your favorite car, you will prefer one “brand” in front of the other.

  2. I struggle with the DISC. It’s easy to take and to comprehend…but for research purposed…things like the Big Five are far more valid.

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