DISC Theory … The Basics

DISC theory, researched by Dr. William Marston at Harvard University in the 1920’s, is a method of identifying predictable actions and personality traits within human behavior. Dr. Marston narrowed these predictable personality traits into four DISC personality types. For our purposes we refer to them as:

D – Decisive

I – Interactive

S – Stabilizing

C – Cautious

Human behavior is not cut and dry or black and white, which is why DISC theory consists of a combination of these behavioral traits.

Let’s dissect the various dimensions of behavior to help you specifically understand where your profile is ideally suited to either help you make more profits, or become a potential pitfall to success. Marston’s DISC model looks at two dimensions compared to each other, which, when crossed, make up the four quadrants.

DISC theory


We all have scores in each quadrant, but the most dominant are the ones that rule our behavior the most.

D – Being extroverted, but taking a more business-oriented approach to the worldview.

I – Being extroverted, but choosing a more socially oriented approach toward the worldview.

S – More introverted or guarded approach in favor of a social worldview.

C – More introverted and guarded approach with a more business-oriented worldview.


In DISC theory, it’s not unusual to have at least two dimensions be very high, in combination. Here are the possible combinations and their characteristics.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 1.41.26 PMThe D/C combination can be an effective entrepreneur profile. The D brings the big-picture, hard-charging, aggressive creationist mentality that comes up with lots of great ideas. While the C brings the detailed-orientation, accuracy, thoroughness and persistence to actually bring those ideas to life and make them happen. In other words, high D/C’s can cover both the big business and little business issues of their business. Note that both focus on the “business” side of things. It can be a conflicted pattern that finds the individual constantly battling between wanting to do things NOW, but preferring to do them PERFECTLY. This can make for a difficult person to work for, as they have high expectations in both realms. Not just of themselves, but of others as well.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 1.43.56 PMThe D/I combination makes for very effective outside salespeople. It brings the aggressiveness, competitiveness, assertiveness and boldness of the D to the process, and from the I adds that sociable, likeable, intuitive, persuasive and inspirational charm. This supports lead agent and listing specialist roles more because they require more aggressive prospecting, negotiating and closing in a more competitive environment. Note how this profile exists in both “extroverted” quadrants, while covering both the business and social aspects. These types of people, however, will suffer from poor organizational abilities, time management issues, coming across too heavily and can alienate clients with other personality styles. They are notorious for starting a million things, but finishing very few.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 1.46.11 PMThe I/S combination is better suited for the roles of “consultative sales” or non-technical support. Consultative sales would be the Buyer’s Agent, if a sufficient number of well-qualified leads are generated for them. The lack of a higher D will negatively impact hunter/gatherer prospecting activities necessary in this role. But when viewed as a sales role that finds the primary focus on supporting the client, patiently guiding them through the process and aiding them with the purchase of a property, this style is a great fit. This profile occupies both the “social” quadrants, but it lacks many of the business focus of other styles. It brings the extroverted and interactive preferences of the high I and combines those with the supportive and patient, caring aspects of the high S.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 1.47.24 PMThe S/C combination is more ideally suited for service and support roles like administrative assistant, transaction coordinator, marketing assistant and bookkeeper. Occupying both introverted quadrants, this style lacks much of the outgoing aggressiveness and influencing traits visible with the other three. These people enjoy minutia, details and “checking off boxes.” They will see projects thoroughly to completion and not ever tire of the details. This style does, however, cover both the business and social aspects of service and support, making it a powerful combination. Individuals in the high S/C pattern bring stability, consistency, accuracy and high levels of quality to any team. Speed, rampant creativity, chaotic environments, overly competitive situations and conflict are the enemies of this combination.

Here are some common strengths and weaknesses associated with each dimension of DISC theory.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 2.24.08 PMWith this more in-depth understanding of your own natural style and your potential strengths and weaknesses, now you’re ready to learn how to become more authentic in your real estate career.

Which combination are you? How authentic to your natural style are you?