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World According to DISC – Darth Vader: King of the D’s

November 11th, 2011

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

Okay, make that 34 years ago in this galaxy right here… an iconic character was introduced to the world and he instantly became one of the most recognized and feared (and lampooned) villains in history. I’m of course talking about none other than Darth Vader.

In the original movie, a.k.a. Episode IV: A New Hope, the Lord of the Sith emerges as a character of pure menace, and also one of pure initiative. certainly Vader is not past using a little force, or even The Force, to get things done. Hmmm, where have we heard that sort of description before? Sounds a little like a DISC behavioral style, doesn’t it?

Forceful, decisive, goal-oriented, intimidating… where can we find these terms grouped together? On the DISC adjective chart, of course. Just look in the column marked High D. Yes Lord Vader is a High D – perhaps the king of the D’s. Want some examples:

Forceful – how about the opening scene where his ship overtakes and boards the rebel vessel? Or when he lifts one of the rebels off the ground with one hand to question him?

Decisive – Vader never hesitates when faced with a decision. From field promotions (and throat-crushing demotions) to dispatching the Emperor himself, Darth has never been one to shy away from making the tough calls.

Goal-oriented – When your replacement Death Star is falling behind in production who do you call? Emperor Palpatine knows who the galaxy’s top fixer is – good ol’ Darth is just the fellow to put things back on schedule.

Intimidating – 6’6″ tall, known to choke people to death for failure – even when they’re not on the same starship, a history of violent rages (we’re not saying that a high D means you’re violent, but D’s can get angry when they don’t get their way), handy with a light saber and one of the best fighter pilots in the galaxy. If that’s not enough to intimidate you then you’ve always got the creepy helmet and raspy aqualung breathing to keep you shaking in your boots. No, I don’t think that anyone liked to bring our Vader any bad news.

Battle Briefing or Behavior Analysis?

But even Darth Vader, Big D, that he may be, was not one dimensional in his behavior. Like all of us, he exhibited a range of behaviors that could have been charted on a DISC graph had the Empire had access to some quality DISC assessments. (Ever notice the resemblance between a DISC Wheel and an Imperial chart?)

So what would we find if we looked beyond Darth Vader’s D? Well without doubt a low I: When not leading a boarding party or giving orders he tended to stay in self-imposed isolation in his hyperbaric chamber. There is also that small incident of slaughtering an entire village of Sand People.

What about Vader’s C? He displayed many high C characteristics: he was a strict disciplinarian, demanded rigid adherence to the chain of command, and as the Emperor’s right hand man (even if that hand was artificial) was on a mission to preserve peace and order throughout the galaxy. On the other hand, Darth Vader was not shown to be a micro-manager as are many high C’s. He would set goals and timetables, and although he dealt really harshly with failure, he did give room for the admirals beneath him to take their own initiative and make their own mistakes. As a youth, while still known as Anakin, Darth bridled against the restrictions and discipline of the Jedi Council – something a high C wouldn’t do unless they had their own set of rules which they felt were superior. The times when Anakin breaks the rules he is reacting chaotically and emotionally, not methodically following an alternate rule set. Chances are the adult Darth Vader’s C would measure above the line, but not particularly high.

Finally, what about Vader’s S? There is some real tension here. Darth Vader exhibits some particularly High S tendencies – a reluctance to change or accept change, a tendency to suppress expression – suppress that is until it boils over in uncontrolled rage. He is generally unimpressed with new technology, trusting more in the old ways of the Force, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed….” Then there is also that “sad devotion to that ancient religion…” When the ways of the Dark Side of the force are questioned he lashes out and intones “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Few things succeed at provoking a strong response from a High S like Darth quite like questioning his world view.

Some people might be confused by the High D also exhibiting a High S, but as discussed previously in our post on Me-Me conflicts, it is important to keep in mind that the opposite of a High D is a Low D, not a High S.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this installment in our ongoing World According to DISC series, and no matter what corner of the galaxy you’re exploring, may the Force (and the DISC) be with you.

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