What does DISC measure?

As I’ve said in previous posts, one of the assessments I use when teaching emotional intelligence is the DISC Assessment, but I often get the question, What does DISC measure?  If you’re not familiar with DISC, or even if you are, what follows is a background on the DISC language.

Essentially, DISC is a behavioral assessment that measures our tendencies in four key areas:

    • How we respond to problems
    • The ways we influence people
    • Our preferred pace
    • The way we respond to procedures

That’s the short answer for the question, “What does DISC measure,” but if you’re wondering why we call it DISC, a brief history lesson will help.

Let’s go back to 400 BC, when a guy named Hippocrates – you may have heard of him – observed four main behavioral styles. Six hundred years later, a Roman philosopher named Galen made the same observation of four behavioral styles. But it wasn’t until the 1920’s that a professor at Columbia University named William Marston found a scientific way to determine people’s predominant style.

He did this by creating two perpendicular axes.  Essentially, one was for how people deal with risk.  At one end he placed people who were more bold or outgoing, and comfortable making higher-risk decisions.  The other end was for people who were more reserved, preferring to take their time with risky decisions.

The second axis was a Task / People spectrum.  One end was for people who focused more on tasks, while the other end was for those who were focusing more on people.

When Marston did a perpendicular overlay of these two spectra, he noticed each quadrant had a predominant behavioral characteristic.

In the quadrant for those are task-focused and more bold, Marston observed their predominate characteristic was Dominating problems.  Whenever these people were faced with a problem, they wanted to solve it right away – in other words, dominate the problem.

What does DISC measureFor those who are more outgoing but focused more on people, Marston observed their predominant characteristic to be Influencing People. If they had an opinion about something, they wanted to share it.

For those who focused more on people but were more reserved and took their time with risky decisions, he found their predominant characteristic to be a Steady Pace. They didn’t like a lot of change, and were a stabilizing factor on teams. They were steady.

And, for those preferred taking time with risky decisions but focused more on tasks, their predominant characteristic was Complying with procedures.  They wanted to understand and follow the rules.

With this, Marston created the Acrostic DISCDominate problems, Influence people, maintain a Steady pace, and Comply with procedures.

And that’s why we call it DISC. So in the future, if someone ever asks you, “What does DISC measure?” you can answer with confidence.

By the way, it helps to remember the alliteration of Problems, People, Pace, and Procedures. Then just fill in the DISC words as you go.

Finally, you should know that there’s no “good” or “bad” in DISC.  Your preferred style can be more effective or less effective in given situations, but there’s no good/bad.  Your DISC preferences is just that – the way you are wired and prefer to behave in the face of problems, people, pace, and procedures.

NOTE:  Daniel Bobinski is certified in DISC and has been teaching it for nearly 30 years. If you would like to get DISC Assessments or DISC training for yourself or for your team, just contact us at info@eqfactor.net.  

Get your free book on emotional intelligence

The power of emotional intelligence in sales

If you’re in sales, you probably already know that emotional intelligence in sales organizations should be on management’s radar. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The opening paragraph in an article about high EQ sales cultures by Colleen Stanley at salesforce.com says it well. To quote her directly, she says:

There are many reasons companies win business. Some are innovative, creating disruptive products and services that make their competitors look like dinosaurs. Others work hard to create high-quality products that are worth their high cost. And there is another reason, one that CEOs and sales managers often overlook. It’s the emotional intelligence (EQ) of the sales department.

There you have it.

I cut my teeth in sales in the Chicago area in the 1970s. And since that time, having taught sales and having coached emotional intelligence to sales teams, I can attest that the topic of emotional intelligence in sales organizations isn’t always on the front burner. But, if you want your sales numbers to go up, it needs to be.

The power of Emotional Intelligence in practice

Let me tell you a story of how emotional intelligence helped one of my clients. The sales manager of this company had a team of four salespeople, and she brought me in to teach them about the DISC assessment and behavioral selling styles (read more about using EQ in teams here).

Keep in mind, she didn’t request the full spectrum of assessments that I normally use when teaching emotional intelligence. All she wanted her team to learn was DISC, so that’s what I taught them.

Without revealing the industry, I will tell you the sales reps worked strictly on commission. One man, who’s name was Jim, had been there for five years, and his average income was roughly $80,000 a year. Some years it was $75,000, other years is was $85,000, but his average annual income over five years was about $80,000.

After learning about DISC behavioral styles and the different ways that each style likes to buy things, Jim went back and reviewed his sales over the previous few years. He determined the main DISC style of those who bought from him, as well as those who didn’t.  What did he learn? He was selling only to people who had styles similar to his!

Armed with that information, Jim became a student on how to adapt his selling style when he encountered prospective clients who had styles different from his.
The power of emotional intelligence in sales
Suffice it to say that he adapted well. The next year Jim made $120,000 – a 50% increase. And, he attributed every penny of that increase to applying emotional intelligence to his sales process.

Harness the power of Emotional intelligence in sales

I have dozens more stories like Jim’s that I could share, but for now, allow me to underscore what is rapidly becoming a truth in business: If companies are not including emotional intelligence in sales training, they are really missing out.

The bottom line all this is that emotional intelligence matters in sales.

Get your free book on emotional intelligence