The framework of the Four DISC Personality Types is usually leveraged by executive clients in particular to bolster executive and board relations, but also to better manage talent at the senior leadership team level.
Executive clients usually make use of this framework for three major topics:
- Managing relationships with other executives;
- Managing relationships with their boards;
- Talent management;
On specific occasions, they may also leverage this framework for particular uses, such as for selling for a VP of Sales/CRO, applying with customers for a VP of Customer Success, for marketing materials as a CMO or other.
Let’s take a look at how to apply this framework for the three different purposes.
This personality assessment can be used to tailor communication when trying to lobby or obtain support from other executives for specific initiatives. This is part of a bigger empathy/influence framework, for example applying my Kingmaker Influence framework, but let’s just take a look at the specific personality assessment component.
We can split executives into the four usual combinations:
- Logical, Fast-Paced people (Dominants): Cares about logical achievements, titles, goals;
- Logical, Slow-Paced people (Analysts): Cares about facts, numbers, repeatable processes.
- Emotional, Fast-Paced people (Passionate): Cares about the vision, stories of success, the big picture;
- Logic, Slow-Paced people (Nurturer): Cares about preserving relationships and making others feel cared for and taken care of;
And you leverage these four types by tailoring communication for them the following way:
- Dominant: Talk about the goals and numbers of the achievements this initiative will create. Revenue, sales, acquired customers, retained customers, internal efficiency. Has to have clear goals and waste no time;
- Analyst: Cares about facts, numbers, repeatable processes. Has to have proper justification in detail. Processes, numbers, figures;
- Passionate: Cares about the vision, stories of success, the big picture. Doesn’t want details, just wants a proper vision/mission to convince them;
- Nurturer: Cares about preserving relationships and making others feel cared for and taken care of. Cares about how employees will be affected, how clients will be affected, how they themselves are being treated by you;
This framework can be used to tailor communication for any purpose with other executives. Not only gaining support for an initiative, but also repairing a conflict when there is one, asking for a favor more efficiently or denying it gracefully, using the person’s own personality in order to always make it sound like what you are saying is the best option for them.
Lobbying or gaining support from a board is very similar to from executives. There is an article just on this topic that goes into much more detail, but in short it’s the same as executive relations in general, only with a specific care on “board hygiene” (having the right people, right culture, people being on time, prepared, read the materials, sticking to an agenda).
Likewise, you diagnose the personality type of the board member you want to influence and tailor communication for them. In cases of board votes and agreements, it might be useful to tactically approach each person in particular to lobby them using their specific personality, and then in a group setting only reinforce the “general”, “cross-personality” objective goals.
For influencing and leading your people, you can use the Four Personalities in a similar way. You already know the requirements of each, so all that is left is to tailor the communication. To request work that they might not be on board with:
- Dominant: Talk about why this is necessary for the goals of the company. Why they, themselves, will achieve goals and results others won’t;
- Analyst: Tell them how this will work in detail. Show them the justifying numbers of projections and the systems that already exist or must be created;
- Passionate: Convince them with the vision. Share the big picture, speak with passion, share a success story;
- Nurturer: Care about their well-being and others’. Tell how this work will help themselves and others have higher quality of work life, how clients will be better off. Focus on caring;
To give them effective feedback:
- Dominant: Tell them how this feedback will improve them achieve goals, be it revenue or any others. Focus on logical, numerical goals;
- Analyst: Tell them how this feedback will improve them in terms of numbers and repeatable processes. Justify well with details;
- Passionate: Paint them a picture of how their performance will improve with the feedback. What will be better, what vision will be achieved;
- Nurturer: Reinforce this feedback is for their own good and how much you care about them and how they will be better off adopting it. Focus on their well-being;
Case Study: Mark
Mark is an executive in a big energy company. He wanted to pass a new initiative that would increase operational efficiency and cut costs. However, he was not sure how to lobby. Mark came to me considering himself a “poor lobbyist”. We worked on immediately changing that.
Mark realized that two of his executives had very distinct personality types: While his account fit that “usual” profile of a Logic-Stability-Oriented person (an Analyst), his COO was surprisingly an Emotion-Achievement-Oriented (Passionate), focusing on stories, passion, the big picture (that COO ended up not being a good fit and leaving a year after, but still). We focused on tailoring the communication for both.
As an Analyst, Mark focused on justifying everything in his proposal with accurate predictions, validating them with multiple sources within the company and using information from similar practices in reports of other companies in the sector. For the Passionate, I worked with mark on crafting a compelling, convincing story.
Mark was able to effectively convince the two executives. We later applied some other layers of Kingmaker Influence to seal the deal, but he became much more confident in his corporate communication skills and erased the “poor lobbyist” label from himself forever.
Conclusion: Towards Personality Assessment in Executive Efficiency
Executives can leverage The Four Perceived Personalities in order to convince others easily, be it executives, their boards or managing senior talent. It’s important to understand each person’s motivations and be able to tailor your communication to match them.