4 Personality Types: Who is the Most Effective?
March 23, 2007

A friend of mine recently bought a fitness center franchise and she is miserable. She learned that when the center is empty she goes stir-crazy. She likes to have people around her all of the time and can't stand the quiet of the afternoon. On the other hand, my best friend is an engineer and he happily works at home alone. Some people are outgoing, some enjoy keeping to themselves and others prefer a little of both. In fact, you can classify people into four basic personality types or behavioral styles.

Look around your office and see if you see any of these people. We'll call the first person Dave. Dave likes immediate results and tends not to listen to details before making decisions. He acts quickly and often cuts people off mid-sentence. Or how about Ingrid? Ingrid is optimistic and looks for the best in everyone. She enjoys conversations, networking events and spreads her influence using her charismatic style. Then there is Stan. Stan is very predictable and patient. He is very loyal to the organization and listens attentively. And finally, we have Catherine. Catherine is interested in accuracy and details. She enjoys working alone and prefers to use diplomacy to solve problems rather than direct confrontation.

Each of these people demonstrates one of the four primary behavioral styles:

  • Dominance: Direct and Decisive. D's are strong-willed, strong-minded people who like accepting challenges, taking action, and getting immediate results.
  • Influence: Optimistic and Outgoing. I's are "people people" who like participating on teams, sharing ideas, and energizing and entertaining others.
  • Steadiness: Sympathetic and Cooperative. S's are helpful people who like working behind the scenes, performing in consistent and predictable ways, and being good listeners.
  • Conscientiousness: Concerned and Correct. C's are sticklers for quality and like planning ahead, employing systematic approaches, and checking and re-checking for accuracy.

Let's look at Dave first. He fits into the Dominance behavioral style. Dave likes to question the status quo, make quick decisions and solve problems. He is comfortable in an environment that includes power and authority, freedom from supervision and working with a variety of activities. He does have trouble understanding that people need people and sometimes has trouble identifying with the group. We need people like Dave because he moves things forward. To be most effective, Dave needs people who can handle the details he often overlooks.

Now on to Ingrid. She's interested in making a favorable impression and enjoys entertaining friends, coworkers and clients – she easily fits into the Influence style. She is articulate and prefers to talk about her ideas rather than present them in writing. Ingrid enjoys group activities on and off the job and is comfortable talking with just about anyone.

Since she always sees the best in people, Ingrid can have trouble making objective evaluations of people and situations. She doesn't like a lot of details and can appear a little disorganized. But we all benefit from people like Ingrid who encourage us to open up and communicate. She contributes to a creative, outgoing and positive working environment. Ingrid needs people who enjoy every-day routines and tasks because these things make her uncomfortable.

Stan is more of a steady person. He is extremely patient, likes to help other people and finishes everything he starts. Stan's daily routine rarely changes; in fact, he doesn't handle sudden changes well at all. Stan is part of the glue that keeps an organization together. Without people like Stan the office or household can be chaotic. Yet Stan's love of routine can slow things down in a fast-paced environment that requires quick decisions and action.

Catherine is our conscientious person. She's similar to Stan but even more detailed oriented. She thinks analytically, is diplomatic with people and uses a critical approach to analyzing performance. She enjoys working in an environment where she knows what is expected and why. She enjoys mentoring others and using her expertise.

Sometimes Catherine can slow projects down by paying too much attention to detail and may seem negative at times. She has a knack for pointing out everything that can go wrong with a project, product or venture. It's important to have people like Catherine because they can see potential problems. Catherine needs to work with people who can help her see the big picture and get her to move when she gets stuck.

DiSC Profile Test Paper Booklet

So what's the answer? Who is most effective? The answer is that each of us is effective with different people, problems, situations and careers; we each have our own style. So how do you find out what your style is? Behavioral styles are determined using a 28 question survey called the DiSC® Profile. Individuals complete the survey using the self-scored paper booklet or the online version. Online profile results can be used to generate group reports used by organizations to get a better understanding of the organizational culture.

There are several uses for this type of profile. Organizations use DiSC to improve communication, build effective teams and help people reach their full capabilities. Some also find it valuable in helping sales and customer service people understand different customer types. DiSC was developed to offer a practical, self-directed approach with a lot of flexibility. Whether you want to promote more effective communication, build successful teams or just find out what your personality type is the DiSC profile is one of the most effective tools available.

About the author:

Don Bowlby is the Vice President, Operations at Corexcel, a company specializing in online continuing education and workforce training. For more information about Corexcel and the training materials they offer, visit www.corexcel.com.

"DiSC" is a registered trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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