Have you ever approached a 4-way intersection simultaneously with three other vehicles?
It happens to me sometimes at an intersection near my home. It’s the type of intersection that has four stop signs and no traffic light, and when four vehicles arrive at the same time, there is often a moment of observing the other vehicles to determine whose turn is when. I would suggest that this behavior is so unconscious as to go unnoticed. Last week at the intersection, however, I noticed.
But first, some context and history: I have a fair amount of experience with an instrument known as the DiSC® assessment, a tool used by more than one million people every year to help improve teamwork, communication, and productivity in the workplace. Individuals take the assessment online and can have results almost immediately. The results of the assessment have real-life application implications that can be sustainably practiced in the workplace.
I’ve been using the DiSC for the past 15 years. In my past experience as an HR director, I used it in recruitment processes to better understand job applicants’ behavioral and motivational preferences. More recently, as a certified “Wiley DiSC Partner,” Emergent offers this powerful assessment as a standard part of our Emergent Leader program to assist leaders in developing their leadership agility, and also as the central focus of a workshop offering that promotes better team engagement, communication, collaboration, accountability, and effectiveness.
Each letter of DiSC represents a particular style of behavior and motives:
- D = Dominance (often confident, sometimes blunt, outspoken, and demanding)
- I = Influence (often enthusiastic, optimistic, open, trusting, and energetic)
- S = Steadiness (often with calm, deliberate dispositions and don’t like to be rushed)
- C = Conscientiousness (enjoy independence, demand details, fear being wrong)
From a DiSC perspective, I am a classic “S” style. I like things to be stable and secure, steady and sure as possible. When I approach a 4-way intersection, I do so with the mindset that I am patient, humble, and accommodating. I’m not going to rock the boat. These are some of the primary traits of “S” types.
In my recent experience, I and the three other cars arrived at the intersection simultaneously, and as I performed my momentary observation, I realized with awe that we could not have orchestrated a more perfectly equitable representation of DiSC styles!
The car directly across from me appeared to be very “D”-like. First, it wasn’t a car. It was a large truck with a 6-inch lift kit, oversized tires and a tuned but loud exhaust, dark tinted windows, and a very dominating appearance. Second, it stopped about 4 feet beyond the stop line on the pavement, practically inserting itself into the intersection ahead of everyone else. The primary traits of a “D” – firm, strong-willed and forceful – exuded from across the intersection!
The vehicle to my right had its windows down with music blaring, and the woman driving it was dancing in her driver’s seat! The vehicle was a bright orange color with many bumper stickers and decals, and the woman’s three passengers were all “bopping” to the rhythm and beat of the music. This car represented the “I” beautifully, with the traits of enthusiasm, outgoingness, and liveliness.
The vehicle to my left was a smaller-sized European sedan. It was clean and tidy in appearance, ran smoothly, and came to a perfect stop exactly at the stop line perfectly demonstrating the classic “C” traits of precision and detail. The four vehicles combined for perfect examples of DiSC styles – which did nothing to ameliorate the indecision of who went first, but it made my day nevertheless.
In the workplace, having a framework to better understand ourselves and others has countless applications. Imagine having the keys to understanding your teammates and colleagues at a deeper level and knowing what to do with them! This is all possible when utilizing DiSC to its fullest potential.
If you’d like to learn more about DiSC workshops or how we utilize this assessment to strengthen leadership adaptability in our Emergent Leader program, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.