The internet and self help books are filled with ways to improve the productivity, camaraderie and trust of your teams and staff. "Eight steps," "ten ways," "five tips," "the three top items," you get the idea.

However, there is one basic tool that has a great deal of merit and proven success and can even help a sales force or development staff relate more effectively with their prospects.

The DISC personality profile can help bridge communication gaps and bring a new level of effectiveness to boards, teams, leadership and staff. However, it’s possible it has been overlooked, or not considered for a while since it’s one of the older tools in the box. In the words of one recent session attendee, "DISC helps clarify one’s own strengths and weaknesses relative to interpersonal communications and reinforces the fact that people differ."  Not surprising a profile that has been around for 45 years is still so relevant and intuitive.

In 1928, William Moulton Marston authored a book entitled "The Emotions of Normal People." In his book he detailed a theory about how people display their emotions and the resulting four behavioral styles were categorized into what we’ve come to know as DISC. The basis for his acronym was Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance.

It’s still relevant because today’s teams have a number of unique challenges in coming together. Take for example the generational differences that often contribute to a "we against them" mentality. Added to those challenges is technology, including remote commutes that may lessen the staff interaction. Finally, as everyone seeks to do more with less, the demands of operational efficiencies puts extra stress on groups, and the most important resources, your staff, so their comfort with one another is imperative.

A DISC profile results from participants answering a series of 24 questions with four identifying statements. The person completing the profile chooses statements that are the "most like" and "least like" their typical preferences. With a surprising accuracy the resulting assessment provides valuable insights into their private self, public self and perceived self.

Utilizing a DISC assessment, a group (could be a board, staff, leadership or management team) learns to accentuate the positives and control the negatives while feeding the needs of specific behavioral styles. In general, the assessment analysis focuses on identifying the four predominant styles among the team. In reality, everyone has a blend of these styles which can flex depending on the environment but one will be more predominant.

D – "Dominate" – Representing 3% of our population. The dominate style likes control and they are generally drivers of projects. "D’s" are typically good leaders but can be perceived as forceful, direct and strong willed.

I – "Influencing" – Roughly 11% of the population. Those with the influencing style like recognition and people. They are great communicators, enthusiastic, entertaining and persuasive but will make spontaneous decisions.

S – "Steady" – Believe it or not approximately 69% percent of our population will fall within this category. Individuals with this primary style seek acceptance and are great team members. Some even state the "S" is for supportive because you’ll often find them in supportive roles. They are great listeners, patient, loyal and like to follow-through.

C – "Compliant" – 17% of the population are of the compliant style and are extremely concerned with doing things right. They like facts and figures and are precise, sensitive and analytical. They also like to work with planning, systems and the orchestration of those plans.

There is tremendous value in a group getting a handle on their own styles and tendencies. Even more benefits result when that information is shared within the group or applied to prospects or potential customers. It allows team members to understand the motivations and needs of their colleagues, who may be able to contribute in new ways, how to build the most effective team and how to connect with business prospects.

Part of the DISC assessment coaching or follow-up workshop should include identifying potential weaknesses and an analysis of how your style(s) interact with others. This analysis will also give you the tools needed to identify the styles of others, such as prospects, staff and potential donors.

During DISC assessments we constantly find participants to be enlightened with the newfound tools to deal with colleagues, prospects and in personal relationships. Building trust, camaraderie and productivity are byproducts of the process and it is without question the best foundation and springboard in seeking to achieve that important goal of bringing your team together.

David Fry is president of Greensburg-based Effective Advancement Strategies.

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