If you’re interested in figuring out your leadership style or want to assess your employees’ leadership potential, a DiSC assessment may be able to help.
A DiSC assessment is a behavioral assessment tool that can help people understand their management style strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately become better leaders. When you can see your tendencies, preferences and even blind spots, you gain the self-awareness needed to guide your team to success even under challenging circumstances.
We’ll explore DiSC assessment basics, how it works and why assessing your workers’ DiSC attributes can benefit your business.
A DiSC assessment is a behavioral assessment that businesses and other organizations sometimes use to determine employees’ and managers’ leadership strengths and weaknesses. It aims to provide more self-awareness and insight, potentially improving operations and teamwork.
Psychologist William Moulton Marston first outlined the DiSC behavior model in his 1928 book, Emotions of Normal People.
According to Personality Profile Solutions’ blog, DiSC Profile, Marston’s theory was that the behavioral expression of emotions could be categorized into four types: Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance. These emotional expression types were based on someone’s self-perception in relation to their environment.
Marston believed that understanding your primary behavioral trait would help you understand and manage your experiences, and foster relationships.
In the decades that followed, others developed several assessments using Marston’s theories, eventually leading to the modern DiSC assessment. Today’s emotional styles have changed a bit from the original incarnation: DiSC now stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.
In a DiSC assessment, individuals answer a series of questions. Based on their answers, they are assigned a main personality type (D, i, S or C) and secondary personality characteristics. A DiSC assessment also measures the values you prioritize.
The results explain the percentage of each style you are and what that means for how you handle challenges, interact with others, approach life and how others perceive you.
Today, DiSC assessments are most frequently used in business and government organizations to help teams work more effectively together. Typically, a human resources personnel will ask a new hire to take an online DiSC assessment. Respondents rate a series of behavior-related statements – such as “Getting results is one of my top priorities” or “I like to be involved in group projects” – based on how strongly they agree or disagree with each statement. The system will compile the respondent’s answers into a report.
While there are free assessments available online, the type of DiSC assessment companies usually conduct is more extensive. In addition to basic information, the assessment report can include these details:
The report is typically shared with the employee, managers to whom they directly report and possibly others who work closely with the individual.
Unlike some other workplace personality tests, a DiSC assessment is easy to administer and doesn’t require a professional to interpret.
Like other personality or behavior-assessment tools, DiSC works by helping your staff become more self-aware. Increased self-awareness will help you recognize your colleagues’ strengths in order to harness them and their shortcomings for a basis in which to improve.
When everyone has taken the same assessment, you have a common framework to view each employee, which will guide decision-making. For example, when forming a team that needs to work closely with each other, you may want to balance personalities rather than have an overabundance of one type. Understanding other people’s styles and values helps you communicate more effectively, resolve conflict and delegate assignments appropriately.
“Assessment tools … can indicate whether the group is likely to bond or fracture by examining qualities that predict both success and failure,” wrote Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Dave Winsborough in a Harvard Business Review article. “For example, we know that teams with members who are open-minded and emotionally intelligent leverage conflict to improve performance, whereas neurotic and closed-minded teams fall apart in the face of disagreement.”
Chamorro-Premuzic and Winsborough also noted that teams perform better when their members share values, and assessment tools can help identify the values expressed through everyday behavior.
“Teams whose values cohere identify more strongly as a group and display greater levels of innovation,” the authors wrote. “Because values are a guide for behavioral choices, group members who share similar values are more likely to agree about group actions and vice versa.”
DiSC results are not tied to age or gender, and tend to change very little over time.
Which DiSC style are you most closely aligned with? Discprofile.com offers an outline and overview of each.
A person with a Dominance (D) style wants to shape their environment by overcoming opposition to accomplish results. They value confidence and focus on the bottom line. (Learn more about the Dominance style.)
Someone with a leading Influence (i) style aims to shape their environment by persuading others. This person values openness, friendship and building relationships. (Learn more about the Influence style.)
A person with a Steadiness (S) style wants to work with others within existing circumstances to carry out tasks. They value cooperation, sincerity and dependability. (Learn more about the Steadiness style.)
Employees with a Conscientiousness (C) style mostly want to work conscientiously within existing circumstances to ensure both quality and accuracy. This person values expertise, competency and objective reasoning. (Learn more about the Conscientiousness style.)
A basic, free version of the DiSC assessment is available at DiSC Personality Testing when you sign up for an account. Alternatively, you can purchase the full suite of DiSC products, including the assessment, analysis tools and certifications at Discprofile.com.
Conducting DiSC assessments offers many benefits to your individual employees and the company. These are some of the most impactful benefits:
Jennifer Dublino contributed to the writing and research in this article.