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Mike and Mark,

Thanks so much for a terrific series of podcasts! They have really made a difference in the way that I manage (particularly as a manager in New Orleans post-Katrina... I only wish I had discovered your podcasts before we went through our rounds of lay-offs).

I have a couple of questions about DISC (they came to mind when I listened to the last members-only podcast, but they are general enough that they probably belong in this area of the forums).

My two questions are as follows. First, do you find that individuals are pressured to change their communications style as they move higher in organizations? I wonder whether some people feel obligated to be more "high-D" or "high-I" as the progress up the ladder. I sometimes feel that I am more "high-D" than when I started managing people.

Second, you talk about bending your style slightly to the direction of the communications style of your audience. This makes sense to me, but I wonder whether there are times to go the other way (use the opposite style). I thought about this for a while and tried to come up with a scenario. In particular, I have some "high-D" employees who, when they interact with me (in my "high-D" moments) tend to ratchet up the intensity a bit too much (as if we are just building on each other's energy). At those times, it might be appropriate to slow it down, take a step back, and implement some "high-S" behavors. What are your thoughts?

Thanks again!

Adam Krob

Mark's picture

Adam-

Thanks for the kind words! We appreciate the praise, and are glad you're getting value out of our efforts.

Sorry about the Katrina effects. My daughter is at Tulane, and will have to go back for one last semester in the fall because of Katrina. Ugh.

Answers:

No, I don't find that managers are "pressured" to change when they get to more senior managerial levels. I think their roles reward that, though, and so they tend to respond to the incentives in their world like we all do. That said, this is not an uncomplicated area, with multiple ways to look at behavior. For instance, there is not only communication styles to look at, but also group leadership preferences, and decision making preferences. In general, we find that high performing senior level leaders CHANGE their internal and external leadership behaviors at about the director level. It's too complex to write out, but HBR had a great article about it recently.

I can see your point about duking it out with a bunch of High D's! I think the only thing that's inviolable about communication is to do what works. The profiles suggest preferences and tendencies, not absolutes. Sure, I think there are times when a gentle suggestion to a high D will have more impact than an order... you just have to know your folks. The profiles get you started, and help you avoid disaster.

I have a set of Markisms I've become known for with some of my clients. One of them is, "use mirrors not to approach perfection but to avoid disaster."

Same's true for the profiles. ;-)

Mark