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Lessons in Leadership

The How and Why of Human Performance – Part I

When it comes to your personality, there are two specific aspects to understand. I like to talk about the How and Why of human performance. That is, How do you prefer to behave and act based on your natural behavioral style? And, Why are you motivated to do things based on your natural motivational style? Each of these aspects of our personalities has been rigorously studied by some of the world’s leading experts in human performance for as many as 80 years. They are each separate aspects of who we are and each plays a significant role in how we can best achieve success in our own unique way. In the first of this two-part blog, I will examine the HOW portion of human performance.

How do you prefer to behave and act, based on your natural behavioral style? Dr. William Marston at Harvard created this study of human performance (Fun fact: he also created Wonder Woman!). His work became the DISC behavioral model. Dr. Marston’s research revealed four core dimensions of behavior:

  1. Decisiveness: How quickly and decisively we prefer to make decisions.
  2. Interactive: How extroverted and sociable we prefer to be.
  3. Stabilizing: How fast or slow we prefer to work, or how stable we prefer to be.
  4. Conscientiousness/Cautiousness: How much detail and accuracy we prefer to focus on.

Let’s get into a little detail about all four aspects of human performance.

The four aspects of human performance

The Decisive Dimension: Your preference for problem solving and getting results.

  • Higher Ds tend to solve new problems very quickly and assertively. They take an active and direct approach to obtaining results. The key here is new problems, as in, problems that are unprecedented or haven’t happened before. They like risks, competition, assertiveness, and a big challenge.
  • Lower Ds tend to solve new problems in a more deliberate, controlled, slower and organized manner. They prefer to think things through very carefully before acting.

The Interactive Dimension: Your preference for interacting with others and showing emotion.

  • Higher Is tends to meet new people in an outgoing, gregarious, and socially assertive manner. The higher I scorers are talkative, interactive, and open even with people whom they have just initially met. People scoring in this range may also be a bit impulsive. Generally speaking, those with the higher I scores are generally…speaking…a LOT!
  • Lower Is tends to meet new people in a more controlled, quiet, and reserved manner. They tend to place a premium on the control of emotions, and they approach new relationships with a more reflective approach than an emotional one.

The Stabilizing Dimension: Your preference for pace, persistence, and steadiness.

  • Higher Ss tend to prefer a more controlled, deliberative, and predictable environment. They place a premium on the security of a work situation and disciplined behavior. They also tend to show a sense of loyalty, have an excellent listening style, and are very patient coaches and teachers for others (customers or team members).
  • Lower Ss tend to prefer a more flexible, dynamic, and unstructured work environment. They value freedom and the ability to change quickly from one activity to another. They tend to become bored with routines and seek outlets for their high sense of urgency and high activity levels as they have a preference for spontaneity.

The Cautious Dimension: your preference for procedures, standards, and protocols.

  • Higher Cs tend to adhere to rules, standards, procedures, and protocols set by those in authority that they respect.  Demanding that things be done the right way. Thus, maintaining some of the highest quality control standards of any of the styles. Often wishing that others would do the same.
  • Lower Cs tend to operate more independently from the rules and standard operating procedures.  Lower C scorers tend to be bottom-line oriented and find an easier way to do something, bending or breaking rules as necessary to obtain results.


Your DISC behavioral style plays a massive role in how successful you will be

Our behavioral (DISC) style has a direct impact on how well we will perform the tasks and activities of our jobs. For outside hunter/gatherer sales (e.g., Listing Agents), a high D and I are vital. For more consultative sales (e.g., Buyer’s Agent), the D can be lower, but the I is still required. D/C styles can make great entrepreneurs, but this combination creates something of a taskmaster. A high S helps in support roles, but also in Buyer’s Agent roles (it takes patience to show the 53rd house). The C dimension (the one I lack, and why I suck at being organized) supports success in being attentive to details, being organized. and following lots of complex steps and procedures.

Your DISC behavioral style plays a massive role in how successful you will be. But more accurately – HOW you will be successful!

Our next post in the series dives into the Why of human performance.

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