DiSC Personality Styles: Understanding Human Behavior in the Workplace

This quote is in our President Rob Jackson’s list of favorite quotes, and my intention to write an article around it for our Leadership Quotes Wednesdays as I am doing for the rest of the articles in his list. As I was just reading a book on DiSC personality styles today, I realized what a great tie-in this quote was for personality styles and human behavior in the workplace and decided to post it here instead.“Great leaders understand human behavior rather than the cybernetics of any functional specialty.” ~James Schorr

Human activity requires leadership; the kind that guides a country through perilous times, a business to success, a non-profit to a mission’s fulfillment, workers to competency and young people to settle into productive adulthood. For all these to happen, personality style training is a critical initiative for any organization.

Leaders interact not only with their team, but with their managers and peers within the organization. Learning to discern the difference in personality styles, taking the time and makes the effort to recognize and appreciate the strengths, skills, and contribution of each individual is what can help you become that great leader and earn support and trust within your organization.

Personality Styles Affect How Others Support Us

To obtain support from subordinates, peers, and superiors, you must learn to understand them in order to know exactly what motivates them. Once you begin to understand your team, you must apply your knowledge of human behavior and personality styles to tailor your leadership style to match their personality style. Most individuals behave within a specific set of behavioral guidelines which can roughly be mapped to the famous DiSC personality styles.

Personal preferences, for instance, are a crucial aspect of human behavior, as well as beliefs and values, which differ between age groups, gender, race, and even from one country to another. The leader must be aware of all such personal preferences since they can prove to be powerful motivators.

Personality Styles Influence Our Hot Buttons

Any great leader must learn to pick up on what creates both satisfaction and unhappiness among his or her team as individuals and as a functional unit in the workplace. Areas shown to produce the lowest employee satisfaction ratings include salary and benefits, working conditions, job security, work supervision, company policies, coworker interaction and work/life balance.

That’s a big area to cover for any manager! Still, if dissatisfaction occurs in any of these areas, if is the leader’s responsibility to identify and attempt to reconcile. Granted, there’s only so much a manager can do with regards to an employee’s base salary, but there is plenty that can be done around working conditions, coworker interaction, and even work/life balance.

Differences in personality styles can change the importance of each of these factors, and learning to understand your employee’s personality styles can give you the inside scoop on what may be their hot button.

Personality Styles Affect What We Find Rewarding

Areas that can initiate and sustain motivation include advancement, compensation through raises or bonuses, additional responsibilities, recognition, and new job challenges. These factors could be considered as part of Vroom’s Expectancy Theory, modified by Porter and Lawler, written as a formula combining valence (reward) and expectancy (performance) to come up with motivation. Vroom observed that individuals behave in a particular manner in the belief (instrumentality) that their actions will yield a specific outcome that they consider attractive.

Another valuable component of understanding personality styles is that it gives the leader an insight into what workers find valuable and how to properly motivate and compensate them. When James Schorr said that a great leader understands human behavior, he was perhaps speaking, in part of motivation as the result of instrumentality, expectancy and valence, the driving force behind the desire to succeed. There’s no wonder why Fortune 500 companies combine some form of personality discovery in their professional development and leadership development training programs.