It’s generally understood that people are different: we have different strengths, different values, and different ways of working. Those differences make us unique and bring diversity to teams and groups. Yet those differences can also be the source of conflict. Having self-awareness makes it easier to work through those conflicts, and I’ve found it reassuring to learn about myself alongside my colleagues.
As a consultant, I’m frequently walking into new organizations to work with others in a helpful, productive manner. I like to study and analyze a problem before solving it. Someone else may want to jump in and take action before I feel comfortable with a solution, and that can create conflict between us. The faster they want to go or more they try to “sell” me on their idea, the more I’ll want to slow down to think through options. My ability to recognize this pattern came from learning about DISC behaviors and my own behavior profile.
At Improving, we offer a number of internal classes to help our employees learn more about themselves as part of our ImprovingU program. DISC is one tool that we use, and a short component of it is included in our consultant profiles. It’s a relatively simple model that has strengthened our interactions with our colleagues and clients; sharing a glimpse into our DISC profile also enables our clients to know more about what to expect in terms of behavior and communication from one of our consultants. Recognizing our own preferences is helpful, and having a language to talk to others about ourselves is doubly so.
Recently a colleague and I realized that our DISC profiles are nearly identical—we’re both very task-oriented and reflective. Recognizing that similarity explained why we find it so easy to talk for hours about challenges we’re facing and goals we’re striving towards. With that connection, we decided to compare our top 5 results from StrengthsFinders, and we discovered that we have two in common! And it’s the differences that have been most exciting to explore. I’ve gained more insight into how my strengths show up as a result of our conversations.
Trying to match someone else’s behaviors or communication style can be like trying to do the limbo and realizing that you’re not flexible enough to make it through—we can adapt to some degree with effort, but we may reach a limit. Rather than contort to one another, we can develop our self-awareness as leaders and talk about our styles. Doing so means we can collectively find ways to accommodate each other and accomplish great work together.