Have you ever wondered why your peer, direct report or leader interacts so differently in a team situation?

Or have you ever questioned a colleague’s commitment to the team based on their contribution in team meetings and projects? 

I’m pretty sure most of us would answer yes to one or both of those questions. Sometimes the most frustrating part of working in a team environment is the perceived disparity of contribution from all team members. I for one have thought “for god sake, why isn’t he or she participating and contributing like the rest of us”? There is no exact answer to this question, but the most likely explanation is that in fact everyone is contributing, equally, but in their own unique way. 

Even if you have not been exposed to the Extend DISC profiling tool, or perhaps a non-believer in behavioural analysis, the following information will most likely resonate with you. And hopefully, you have that light bulb moment where you reflect back to a work-related situation and finally get why your colleague behaved that way or said those things and interacted with the team in that manner. 

The D Style – Dominance

Think of your colleagues, reports or leader who consider themselves to be ‘above’ the team and come across in a tough, impatient and direct manner. Those who tend to delegate and organise others, rather than get into the detail and ‘do’ the work. Those who like to be in control and lead the new and exciting initiative. These people would more than likely display the typical characteristics of a “D” behavioural style. There is nothing wrong with this person, in fact they will certainly get results through their determined and relentless attitude towards succeeding. Careful though, not a lot of detail or thought will necessarily go into their action or decisions! Whilst I’m on decision making, D’s will make decisions quicker than the rest of us and will own them, no matter the outcome. Understand them, recognise the signs and strap yourself in because it will be a pretty fast ride!

The I Style – Influence

What about the person at work who considers themselves to be the centre of the team – the one who makes all the jokes (not always funny by the way) or has all the ideas! In fact, this person would most likely be involved in a lot of teams. The social club committee, the end of year party organising committee and the focus group to decide the next focus group. Sorry, I got off topic, clearly I am one of the “I” style people! We see teams as an exciting way to meet new people and contacts and think networking is the most important part of our day. We tend to get overly excited and offer up a million ideas, whilst others in the team do the eye roll and try to get us back on task. More on these styles next, back to me, I mean, the I style for a minute. These people will ensure the teams are cohesive and work together positively. When push comes to shove though, you may find them as the most easily distracted and colleagues who can be the most unreliable, especially when under pressure.

The S Style – Steadiness

The next style of team member, the “S” style, considers themselves to be a team member and really thrives on feeling apart of the overall team. They won’t however want or need to be the centre figure or leader of the team. They will be the steady and deliberate team player that every good team needs! A team enables them to feel secure as the S’s in your team don’t like isolation. Stability and familiar surroundings will see these colleagues be the most effective they possibly can. When it comes to opinions, ideas or thinking of new ways of working, you most probably won’t hear from them. They like to keep their opinions to themselves, generally out of fear of being wrong or the possibility of offending anyone. The old saying of ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it’ is the philosophy of your S colleagues.

The C Style – Compliance

You know that person who looks like they are on the fringe of the team? Not really in the team nor out of the team? These people would likely be characterised as “C” style. They are the perfectionists who consider that all activities and tasks within a team environment should be done right. The first time. There is not really any grey with this style of colleague, it is either black or white. Details, facts and robust processes are a necessity for this style, and if present in their team, will be a very strong performer. If you expect them to make decisions on the spot without the detail they require, or enough time to consider all of the facts, they will feel pressured and may wish to withdraw and have others make the decision. Give them the time to consider all angles and you will be surprised at how strong their decision-making ability actually is.

No one style is stronger, some are just more obvious to recognise in your team environment. Everyone has a valuable part to play in the success of the business or team, we just need to invest the time and energy to truly understand how to best communicate, cooperate and interact with our colleagues. When we do, it is so powerful to see how strong and successful it can be.

The most important things to remember are:

  1. Not one style is better than the others in a team environment
  2. All styles have strengths and weaknesses – it is up to us to understand our colleagues on a deeper level, and communicate with them in a way that compliments their style
  3. Self-awareness is key to any successful team.