Behavioral assessments are, as covered last week, a valuable way to understand your prospects, employees, fellow leadership, family, etc.

There are tons of different behavioral assessments out there.

Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Strengths Finder, DISC, Working Genius, Kolbe, The Big Five, Hogwarts Houses, the list goes on and on.

While The Big Five is the one with the most scientific backing, many prefer to use others because of their experience with them.

I’ve taken all of the above assessments, with the exception of the Strengths Finder, and have found that any of these can be mostly right most of the time.

In my opinion, they aren’t meant to give you a written-in-stone picture of who you are and always will be.

They’re more like a caricature depiction of you that lets you see certain aspects of yourself, sometimes magnified to the point that it starts to become inaccurate. Sometimes the truth stings a little and sometimes you know enough to ignore the inaccurate parts.

The point to this analogy is that it doesn’t really matter which assessment you use to understand yourself, your leadership, your prospects, or your broader team. At the end of the day, they’re all saying very similar things in slightly different ways.

I like to use the DISC assessment because it’s simple and straightforward. You have 4 options to remember, which makes it very simple. The complexity comes from the varying levels of each option and the interactions between them.

Many purists complain about DISC and say it is inaccurate, but the assessments they use are often saying the same information with different labels. Yes, some assessments are less accurate than others and two DISC assessments from different people may give very different answers, but even the results that are a bit off are usually mostly right and the parts that are wrong still help you better understand yourself and reflect on your nature.

So with all of those prefaces out of the way, let me give you a quick overview of the DISC profile in case you’re unfamiliar. When reading through these, think about which ones resonate with you and which may represent your team members. Building a team of people with opposite behavioral styles is a great way to shore up your weaknesses and provide a better client experience.

DISC is an acronym that stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. It is based on the four humors of Hippocrates. Each style is measured on a scale from 1-100 and is considered “inconsequential” if it is particularly low (relative, I know, but I’ve seen differing numbers for this. I’d say anything 25 and under can be ignored).

Your highest score is considered your “cardinal trait” and tends to be represented most strongly in your behaviors, but it is very common for another score to be close to, or even the same as, your cardinal trait.

Most people end up one column in the 90’s with their second in the 70’s-80’s and the others much lower. Scores around the median tend to denote that you are less expressive of your needs/desires and exhibit more subtle behaviors in line with the associated style.

No style is bad, and they all have their pros and cons. Also, some styles are learned and others are natural. We adapt to survive (and thrive when possible) in the environment we’re in. If there is a large discrepancy between our natural style and the style we have to exhibit to do well in our work, it puts us under a lot of stress and can cause us to do poorly and seek a more natural fit. This is, in part, why it’s important to understand behavioral styles and hire the right style for the work required.

Let’s go over each style and how they tend to manifest in agencies.

D: Dominance (Extroverted)
Self-explanatory, primarily Dominant styles tend to be more assertive, direct, and results-oriented. They tend to take charge because they know what needs to be done and are self-starters. They don’t like to waste time and don’t have much patience for things that don’t move them toward their goal. They fear stagnation and being stuck.

They love a challenge and are often motivated by monetary reward, progress, or the satisfaction of having bettered themselves. They aren’t super concerned with what others think of them and can sometimes come across as mean, angry, or rude. They don’t usually intend to be abrasive, but are focused on getting to the results rather than how you feel about it.

“High D’s” as they’re called, often make great leaders and often do well in sales. They’re not usually the best for people-centric roles that require empathy or water-cooler talk unless their D line is balanced with one of the more people-centric lines (we’ll get to that).

They communicate in a shorter, more direct manner, preferring to get right to the point and tell it like it is. If you don’t have a path to the top, they’re likely to take a job with a company that will reward their hard work and excellence. If your work lacks a challenge, they’ll probably leave for something more rewarding.

Competition can be a great motivator for them, as can bonuses and recognition. High D’s are a great asset to any team, especially a leadership team, and especially if you have a team of mostly people-centric or analytical people.

I: Influence (Extroverted)
High I styles tend to be more talkative, diplomatic, and relationship-oriented. They want to be around people, be seen and heard, and be understood. They love to work with a team, but they love to be in charge or in the spotlight for another reason. They are often fun and creative, and love variety. They fear not being liked, being mischaracterized, and being misunderstood.

They love being recognized and appreciated by others and will often adapt their behavior to fit in. They care deeply about how people perceive them and will passionately defend themselves if challenged. They are experts at building rapport quickly and tend to learn exceptionally fast due to their intuitive ability to make connections subconsciously and adapt on the fly. Their guesses are often right, even if they’ve never thought about the question before.

High I’s also make great leaders and generally thrive in any situation that lets them focus on relationships (including sales when leads are given to them). They tend to dislike competitions that they deem “unfair” because it can mischaracterize them. They love to look good, though, so they tend to be competitive. They also are the most likely to dislike behavioral assessments because they don’t want to be put in a box.

They process externally, so they tend to talk a lot and say similar things in different ways to “think through” it and better understand their thoughts about it. They tend to be motivated by recognition just as much as money, so promotions and/or awards are an easy win if deserved. If your agency is 100% remote, letting them work from a coffee shop and offering chances to get together every now and then will increase loyalty, as will regular public recognition of their contribution.

High I’s are a great asset to any team, especially a leadership team, and especially if you have a big team and more analytical and results-oriented people.

S: Steadiness (Introverted)
Steady styles are quiet, considerate, and people-oriented. They tend to wait for direction and follow direction well. They care deeply about helping others, doing the right thing, and making sure others are taken care of. They fear rejection, being a burden, and letting people down.

They love to know that they’ve helped others do well and are motivated by appreciation and thoughtful, private recognition. They don’t want to be in the spotlight and will generally listen more than they speak. They hate to impose and will almost never ask for what they need if they feel like it would be inconvenient for others.

“High S’s” are fantastic administrators and can be good account managers if they aren’t required to interact too much on the phone or in-person (though they’re not always shy). While they are people-centric, they’d rather serve in the background and shine the light on others than be the center of attention or surrounded by people.

They communicate in a thoughtful, often quiet manner. They listen and think more than they talk and they’re not often expressive of what they want unless it’s best for others. If you hire a High S, you’ll probably keep them for a long time unless you treat them, or people around them, like garbage. If you have work that requires empathy and consideration of others, they’ll probably crush it.

Competition and anything else that draws attention to them or their skills will be a big turn-off for them. They don’t tend to be super confident and they tend to prefer doing the same things over and over again, particularly if the task are helping others. High S’s are a great asset to any team, especially if you have a lot of people that want to take charge or more results/task-oriented people.

C: Compliance (Introverted)
Compliant styles are calculating, direct, and task-oriented. They follow the rules, unless the rules are stupid. Then they make their own rules that actually make sense. They like to understand why things are the way they are and don’t have much patience for overly-emotional people or things that aren’t logical. They fear being wrong, the spotlight, and doing things for no reason.

Like the High D, High C’s love a challenge and are often motivated by progress or the satisfaction of having bettered themselves. They also aren’t super concerned with what others think of them and can sometimes come across as mean, angry, or rude. They can be abrasive because they’re focused on the facts, rather than how those facts may be received.

“High C’s” often make great leaders and often do well in sales. They’re not usually the best for people-centric roles that require empathy or water-cooler talk unless their D line is balanced with one of the more people-centric lines (we’ll get to that).

They communicate in a more direct manner, preferring to tell it like it is and stick to the honest facts. They’re great with tasks that have a clear, logical process and that deal in numbers. They are great SEM ad managers, software engineers, and anything else that is more data than emotion.

Competition can be a great motivator for them, as long as it’s not on a stage. They don’t like change much and they thrive on structure and predictability. High C’s are a great asset to any team, especially as a COO or CFO.

These explanations are the rule and every rule has exceptions. Each can also be changed, in small or drastic ways, by the influence of high secondary styles. In business, especially marketing, you’ll see a lot of High D-I’s and High I-S’s, as well as some D-C’s and C-S’s.

The point to knowing all of this is to recognize why people (team members, prospects, and clients) behave as they do and to help you predict their reactions to your behavior. It should help you communicate more effectively with them, to lead them more effectively, to close more deals, and to retain employees and clients longer.