Put People in Positions Where They Will Be Successful 2

If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be? If you were a colour, do you think you would be red, blue, yellow, or green? What would you think if your Interviewer asked you to draw a pig? Believe it or not, these are the kinds of questions you might get asked during your job interview. Don’t panic; Interviewers aren’t looking to have you committed. They are, however, looking to gain some valuable insight to your attitude, behaviour, and potential in the workplace. Weird science? Perhaps. But today’s behavioural assessment tools are becoming more and more prevalent as companies look for ways to hedge their bets against the high costs associated with hiring the wrong person.

Worth Remembering …

“Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgements sounder, and your life closer to your hearts desire.” –  Isabel Briggs Myers

Behavioural assessments are not new. Personality research dates back to Hippocrates in 400 BC. Hippocrates believed that we each have our own natural, perfect, unchangeable personality style. He believed that while we each have the same factors comprising our personalities, four distinct styles of behaviour emerge. It’s interesting to note that no matter what assessment tool you use – Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Colours or DISC – they all agree that there are four distinct styles of behaviour and that each style reacts to  the same situation differently. And generally speaking we “Fit” into one of the four styles.

Each of the four styles has their own strenghts and limitations; and there really isn’t one style that’s better than any other. It is clear, however, that some styles are better suited for some roles, tasks, or careers. Yes, it’s true that we all have the ability to modify our behaviour to get a different result, but we all have one style that feels most comfortable to us and we use that one style most of the time, regardless of the circumstance. Keep in mind that a strength overused or used in the wrong situation can be a weakness.

Worth Remembering …

“Effective executives fill positions and promote on the basis of what a person can do. They do not make decisions to minimize weaknesses but to maximize strengths.” – Peter F. Drucker 

I use an assessment tool in all of my coaching engagements and workshops based on the DISC theory first introduced by Dr. William Marston in his epic book, Emotions of Normal People published in 1928. In the mid 1950’s, William Clark further developed the Marston theory. He utilized the simple matrix entitled DISC and identified the factors that comprise each of the four styles. I use the tool to help identify the style of the person I am working with – their strengths and their limitations. And it provides my client with a universal language that is easy for them to understand. (They already know what they do well and what they don’t do well – but now at least they have a name for it and a reason behind why they do what they do)

We are who we are – but it doesn’t have to dictate where we end up. We are adults and we can learn new habits. Just stop doing one thing and start doing another. And the more that we do it – the more it becomes us. I believe the key to performance improvement is by understanding ourselves well – and by studying the behaviours of others. Managers spend way too much time trying to change people. What they should be doing is spending the time to find out what their people do well – and then put them in positions where they will be able to play to their strengths.

These are the four  distinct styles of behaviour associated with DISC Theory. Recognize anyone you know? Which one sounds most like you?

D – Dominant Style, Direct and Decisive: These types of people make quick decisions when others cannot; they will confront tough issues or situations, accept change as a personal challenge, and will keep the team focused on task. (In the olden days we called this style the typical “A” Type personality. (I’ll let you figure out what the “A” meant.) Others may see limitations because they may come across as unapproachable. They can be insensitive to others needs. Patience is not your strong suit. D Style persons naturally want to take control. They have a lot of qualities that we like to see in our managers.

I – Interactive/Interpersonal Style, Optimistic and Outgoing: These people like to make themselves available to others; they spread their enthusiasm and positive attitude to others and will give positive feedback to their colleagues and teammates. They are great communicators and have an innate ability to build collaborative teams. Others may see limitations because they can appear to be disorganized. They love being around people so they find it difficult to work alone. They’d rather be liked then to be respected. I Style persons make great sales people – social convenours or teachers.

S – Steadiness Style, Sympathetic and  Cooperative: These types are team players; they are sensitive to other’s needs, approach meeting agendas methodically, and are great listeners. They are very loyal, show up to work on time, and maintain the status quo. They prefer to be non-confrontational. Others may see limitations because they can be indecisive – they find it difficult to make quick decissions for fear of making waves. They have a tendancy to resist change for fear of failing. S Style persons work best in a structured environment where processes have been defined and people are expected to follow procedure.

C – Conscientious Style, Concerned and Correct: These types of people like things done the right way as they see it. They are very thorough and will maintain standards; (as long as they where the ones who developed the standard). They emphasize accuracy and will try to use some diplomacy to get their way. C’s are our very best planners. Others may see limitations because they can be overly concerned with perfection. They prefer to work alone. C Style persons make great accountants, lawyers or project managers.

Worth Remembering …

“Everyone has peak performance potential. You just need to know where they are coming from and meet them there.” – Ken Blanchard. 


  1. Didn’t really think of it that way. Interesting take on that picture. That picture was taken in the UK – while on a vacation to visit my son who was going to university over there. The Rover is rented. Truth be told I live in a single room apartment and gave up owning a vehicle years ago to try and reduce my carbon imprint. I walk, ride a bike or bus while in town. If I have a workshop or speaking engagement out of the city I rent a vehicle. – Thank you for the question and for reading my blog posting. Stay Focused – Brian


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