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How can DISC tools improve self-awareness and skill development?

Updated: May 3

Self-awareness is the cornerstone of personal growth and development. Understanding our natural tendencies, communication style and behavioural patterns can be a transformative journey.

From my 10 years of supporting individuals and teams with psychometrics, here are some useful lessons.


Whether you are considering ways to improve your organisations recruitment processes, provide something different for your new team members onboarding experience or wanting to develop the leadership skills of your managers, DISC based assessments can be a powerful catalyst for raising self-awareness and nurturing innate talents.


Developed by psychologist William Marston in the early 20th century, the DISC model is based on the premise that there are four primary behavioural traits: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S) and Compliance (C). Each person possesses a unique blend of these traits, which shapes their behaviours, communication styles and decision-making.


There are a variety of DISC assessments and as certified practitioners of the Thomas International PPA, our clients often report on its accuracy. As a tool it is simple, robust and British Psychological Society registered. We find it to be a wonderful starting point for teams and individuals. By simply answering a series of questions online, participants receive a personalised report that highlights their strengths and traits. Useful for individuals to raise their self-awareness and also for recruiting teams to gain a better insight of the strengths of new recruits and team members.


Recognising your leading Trait

All of us have a leading trait. This is the behaviours and linked values we most connect to. For some it is what they are most comfortable with or may be what they would describe as their natural skills and tendencies.


People who are assertive, goal-oriented and confident, often exhibit a preference for the Dominance trait. They tend to make decisions quickly and describe themselves as direct and self-starting, unafraid to chart new courses. However, potential pitfalls for individuals with this trait can include impatience and insensitivity at times.


Individuals who are charismatic, enthusiastic and sociable often possess Influence traits. They are natural storytellers who radiate positivity, traits that can help them excel in social situations, networking and communication. However, it's essential to be mindful of the risks of overextending oneself and to consider how their approach may impact others who see the world differently.


Individuals with Steadiness traits are dependable, patient and empathetic. Understanding and leveraging this trait can enhance your ability to build strong relationships, provide support to others and maintain a harmonious work environment. However, it is important to avoid becoming overly cautious and resistant to change.


Individuals who recognise the Compliance traits in their behaviours are likely to be detail-oriented, analytical and systematic. Embracing your compliance can lead to precision, accuracy and excellence in your work. Yet, it's crucial to manage perfectionism and avoid becoming overly critical.


Developing Strengths and Communication through DISC

Once you have a clear understanding of your DISC profile, you can embark on a strengths-based development journey. This involves identifying areas where your leading traits can shine and leveraging them to achieve your goals.


Your DISC profile also reveals your preferred communication style. By adapting your communication to the styles of others, you can improve relationships, enhance teamwork and become a more effective team leader and member.


While it's essential to harness your strengths, it's equally important not to ignore potential weaknesses or blind spots associated with your DISC profile. Developing these underutilised traits can lead to a more well-rounded and adaptable personality.


Practical Applications of DISC

Using DISC for personal growth involves continuous self-reflection and improvement. By aligning your actions with your DISC traits, you can make informed decisions that better serve your aspirations.

DISC is not limited to self-awareness but extends to understanding and working effectively with others. In team settings, it can enhance communication, reduce conflicts and optimise collaboration by recognising the diverse traits of team members.


Leaders who are aware of their DISC profile can adapt their leadership style to suit different situations and individuals. This flexibility can lead to more effective leadership, improved employee morale and increased productivity.


3 Tips for Maximising the Benefits of DISC


  1. To maintain and deepen your self-awareness, schedule regular self-reflection sessions. Review your DISC profile, assess your recent experiences and identify areas for improvement.

  2. Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues, friends or mentors who are familiar with DISC. Their input can provide valuable insights into your behaviour and help you refine your self-awareness.

  3. Use your DISC insights to set specific, actionable goals for personal growth. Whether it's improving your leadership skills, enhancing your communication or addressing weaknesses, having clear objectives will keep you motivated.


Using DISC to Enhance Colleagues Working Relationships

Priya and Ian were both members of a marketing team tasked with launching a new product line for their company. Despite their shared goal, their working relationship was strained due to frequent misunderstandings and clashes in communication.

Priya, an outgoing and assertive individual, often found Ian's reserved and detail-oriented demeanour frustrating, while Ian perceived Priya as overly aggressive and lacking attention to detail.

Recognising the need to address the communication barriers between Priya and Ian, their team leader asked us to introduce a DISC assessment as a tool to enhance their understanding of each other's communication styles. Both Priya and Ian agreed to participate in the assessment, which categorised their behavioural tendencies into four primary dimensions: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.

Upon receiving their DISC results, Priya and Ian underwent a facilitated discussion to explore their respective communication preferences and behavioural tendencies. Priya, identified as a high "D" (Dominance) and "I" (Influence), realised that her direct and expressive communication style might come across as overwhelming to Ian, who was categorised as a high "C" (Compliance) and "S" (Steadiness). Similarly, Ian understood that his preference for thoroughness and adherence to procedures might be perceived by Priya as resistance to change or indecisiveness.

Armed with this newfound awareness, Priya and Ian collaborated on developing an action plan to improve their working relationship:


  • Priya and Ian agreed to establish clear communication norms, including setting expectations for response times to emails and scheduling regular check-in meetings to discuss project progress.

  • Both colleagues committed to flexing their communication styles to better accommodate each other's preferences. Priya practiced being more patient and allowing Ian time to process information, while Ian worked on expressing his thoughts more assertively when necessary.

  • Recognising that their differing strengths could complement each other, Priya and Ian identified areas where they could collaborate effectively. Priya focused on generating creative ideas and engaging with clients, while Ian ensured meticulous planning and execution of marketing campaigns.

Over the course of several weeks, the implementation of the action plan yielded significant improvements in Priya and Ian's working relationship. Misunderstandings decreased, and communication became more efficient and respectful. By leveraging their understanding of each other's DISC profiles, Priya and Ian transformed their once-strained relationship into a collaborative partnership, ultimately contributing to the successful launch of the new product line.


Self-awareness is a lifelong journey, and the DISC assessment is a valuable tool that can speed up this process. By understanding your leading traits, leveraging your strengths and addressing your blindspots, you can unlock your full potential and become a more effective, adaptable and fulfilled individual.


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