Is that Really Me?

Written on the 22 July 2014 by Markku Kauppinen, Extended DISC North America

Is that Really Me?

One of the best parts about my professional life is that I have the opportunity to work with so many talented and successful individuals. Many also happen to be our clients. They are people who are very passionate about their work and have a genuine interest in helping other people to achieve their goals and become more successful in their professional and personal lives. While these individuals come from different educational and industry backgrounds, all of them share one common denominator: they are all very self-aware. Not only that, all of them have taken a very honest and candid look at themselves and are comfortable with their strengths and weaknesses.

Typically, they also have a healthy sense of humor about who they are. They do not take themselves too seriously and rarely use their own behavioral style as an excuse for bad conduct.

Perhaps you too have noticed that truly successful people are always keenly self-aware and have accepted who they are. It sounds simple but can be quite difficult to do. Making peace with who we really are is not easy.

Not very long ago, I was talking with an executive coach, Jim, who shared his recent experience with one of his clients. He had been asked by the CEO of a very large privately-held company to work with one of the key executives. His client, let’s call her Susan, was performing well, but both she and the CEO wanted to further improve her performance. In other words, the executive coach had a willing and motivated client and not a hostage who did not want to change.

Jim asked Susan to complete the Extended DISC self-assessment to establish a starting point for his coaching. Susan was both excited and curious to see the results.

If you have ever received your Extended DISC report, you know the results are designed to stimulate your thinking. It focuses on who you really are and in the process uncovers possible blind spots that may be holding you back. In our view if an assessment report only provides information the person already knows (and, therefore, easily agrees with) it offers very limited value. Although the report may be interesting and even entertaining, it is unlikely to impact any real behavioral change.

Jim has a standard practice to have his clients read the assessment report for the first time in his presence. He believes observing the body language of his clients as they read the reports reveals valuable information. Susan was no exception.

Jim noticed that Susan openly accepted the strengths identified in the report. She was nodding and smiling as she read about them. However, when she began to review the sections about her development areas, Susan’s reaction was very different. Her smile disappeared and was replaced with a slight frown.

“I am not sure if some of this is accurate”, she said. “Jim, do you think these statements sound like me?”
“What do you mean?” Jim asked.

“It says here that I am not aggressive enough. I think I am pretty aggressive. I go after my goals. I know you do not know me that well yet, Jim, but don’t you think I am pretty aggressive? Also, I think I am pretty detailed-oriented. I have learned from my mistakes and really try to get better at taking care of details...not that I LIKE details, they usually drive me crazy!” Susan said laughing out loud.

“I see....” Jim replied.

“Do you think some of my colleagues may find me too aggressive? I really do not want to come across that way...I want to focus on my goals, but it is important to work toward the goals together. It is more fun that way too, don’t you think? I remember working for this one guy years ago. He was a real jerk. The only thing he was focused on was his own goals. Everything was about him, him, him. I could not stand that guy....”

If you are familiar with the DISC-styles, you have already identified Susan as an outgoing and talkative I-style. She, like all of us, has both strengths and development areas. When people learn more about who they are, almost no one has any trouble accepting their wonderful strengths. I have never heard anyone make statements such as: “No, this is not true. I am just not that goal-oriented” or “No, this statement is false. I really do not work well with other people.” We have no difficulty sharing with the world what amazing things we have to offer.

It is a somewhat different situation when we have to face our development areas. While most of us can handle learning about our shortcomings, others have difficulties facing the reality. I am certainly not saying that just because a statement is included in a person’s assessment report, it must be so. That is not the case. However, there is a very good chance it just could be true. More importantly, the “new” information could offer an important opportunity to become even more successful. With acceptance comes increased self-awareness.

As Susan validated the results of her report in front of Jim by talking excitedly and profusely, she convinced herself that, yes, her development areas were accurate as well. Susan began to recall and share experiences where her lack of self-awareness resulted in unfavorable outcomes. “If I just had know better”, she said.

We want to be good at what we do. We want to be good employees, leaders, friends, spouses, parents, and so on. Being good, and getting even better, means we must use and capitalise on our strengths. It also means mitigating our development areas.

Do you know what yours are?Find out, take the Extended DISC Behavioural Questionnaire now, and receive your full Individual Analysis Report.

Author:Markku Kauppinen, Extended DISC North America