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Ask the Expert: Comparing DISC Profiles – Awareness and Attitude

September 17th, 2011

A recent DISC question from a reader arrived via our Ask the Expert form:

** I know 2 very different managers with exactly the same red score of about 45/100. One is angry and impatient yet lacks ambition, motivation and drive. The other one is highly driven but cool, v. hard to anger. So my question is, based on the fact that DISC has an algorithm, can we infer a high “drive” / motivation score for someone with a medium red score who just doesn’t get angry ? **

Art’s answer:
I want to first take this opportunity to discuss the format of this question before exploring an answer:

We often get questions like this, which are unfortunately vague regarding some of the details needed to provide a precise answer. The reader may not be aware if they have only been exposed to one version of DISC that there are in fact many publishers of DISC assessments – and not all of them present information the same way. This question refers to a specific red score of 45/100, but does not specify which DISC system they are using, nor which DISC category is represented by the color red. Although the some DISC publishers use the colors red, green, blue and yellow they don’t all use that palette – some use brown, red, blue and yellow, and some DISC consultants impose their own color branding on the DISC categories. Thus red may represent I in one company’s assessment report, but it represents D in another. Likewise, some DISC reporting algorithms only able to generate a dozen or so reports based on variations of the behavioral scores of an individual while other DISC systems can assign an individual to one of literally hundreds of report variations. For more information on some of the differences in DISC systems I recommend our article Good DISC vs. Bad DISC.

When submitting a question through our Ask the Expert form it will help if you can provide the following information along with your question:

  • The name of the DISC publisher who produced your assessment
  • The DISC distributor or consulting company who administered the assessment
  • If you are asking about a specific profile please provide the complete score in all four areas as well as Natural and Adapted scores if provided.

Following these guidelines will make it possible to provide more accurate answers to your queries.

Now, on to the answer…
Regardless of the vagueness of the question that was submitted, there is a point that can be made based on information inferred from the narrative provided by the asker:

In the description of the two managers there are a couple of words used that give clues to information that was left out of the question – the words are “angry” describing the first manager and “highly driven” describing the second one. Although there isn’t really enough information here to know for certain, on the surface it appears that both managers have a strong D, but they are expressing that D in different ways.

If you are using a DISC publisher that can only provide a few possible reporting variations, you are going to get an over-generalized report. It will be stretched over too wide a variety of DISC combinations. For instance, there is a big difference between a very high D with a low C – someone with the force of a runaway train with no tracks (or rules) to guide that force – and a very high D with a high C – a far more controlled individual who is deliberate and less likely to show anger, etc.). Likewise, a very high D with a low S is far less patient and much quicker to anger than a high D with a high S who tends to suppress anger (until it comes to an explosive head). So, a DISC interpretation with fewer report variations is not going to give you as detailed an analysis as one whose algorithms produce many report variations, in fact the fewer the reports a system provides the higher likelihood of inaccurate results.

The other factor that is important to consider when two people share similar scores in one or more areas, but exhibit divergent behaviors, is what I call “Awareness & Attitude”. Is the high D aware of how they come across, and what is their attitude towards adjusting or adapting? Emotional intelligence profiles among other approaches address this factor, and it is very important in analyzing how we apply ourselves behaviorally. For example, consider the difference between a high D that wants everyone to change for them (a “my way or the highway” person) vs. a high D that realizes how counterproductive their high D can be in a team setting, and is willing to adapt/adjust to other styles to be more collaborative and less dictatorial.

A DISC report in itself reveals behavioral tendencies, not necessarily how one is applying those tendencies. And the more intense their tendencies are, the more important it is to understand their “Awareness and Attitude”.

What’s your question?

Data Dome’s resident expert is our founder, Art Schoeck. A member of TTI’s prestigious International Faculty, Art often receives questions through our Ask the Expert form. We try to answer questions here on this blog that are representative of common questions regarding DISC and other assessment tools.

Do you have a question about DISC? If so please submit it via the Ask the Expert form. Although it may not be possible to answer every question individually, we use the “Ask the Expert” category of this blog to answer the DISC-related questions most important to our readers.

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