In the February issue of The Leadership Challenge newsletter, we shared some of our experiences putting the power of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® to work with The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™. In that first article, we demonstrated a variety of ways to leverage the synergies between these two models. One synergy we cited is the shared fundamental belief that to improve performance leaders and teams need feedback. This article expands on that theme, and focuses on how to pair the LPI®: Leadership Practices Inventory® with Everything DiSC®, a key component of The Five Behaviors program. Everything DiSC is a personality assessment tool that measures behavioral preferences and tendencies. When used together, DiSC and LPI can produce a powerful set of insights, actions, and results for your coaching clients.
The power of this combined approach rests in the respective focus of each tool. The LPI is an external lens that helps leaders better understand how they “show up” in the world. They get a powerful 360 degree view of what behaviors people observe them exhibit, and with what frequency. DiSC is an internal lens that helps leaders appreciate how their innate preferences, tendencies, motivations, and stressors may shape their typical behaviors—including those measured by the LPI. The combined insights can accelerate the outcomes a leader achieves from a coaching partnership.
Leveraging the LPI
At the outset of a new coaching engagement, we make it a point to help leaders fully appreciate two of the most valuable aspects of the 30 behaviors in the LPI: 1) they are evidence-based and positively correlated with business performance, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction; and 2) anyone can do every single behavior. Every leader is in control of whether and how often they do or do not exhibit the behaviors. No special skills are required. They don’t need permission from a boss, or any special DNA-based qualities to lead effectively. Being the best leaders they can be is much more about awareness, intention, focus, and practice. We remind leaders that, after all, they are already leading—perhaps just not frequently enough.
However, as coaches, we recognize that certain behaviors come more easily to some leaders than others. Perhaps that’s a result of the values they were raised with, the strengths their high-impact role models demonstrated, or their own experience of works for them. But we also believe that core aspects of their personality and how they’re “wired” can influence their leadership behaviors.
Leveraging the Power of DiSC
When leaders complete the Everything DiSC research-validated assessment they get a customized report that helps them discover their own DiSC style—the preferences, motivators, and priorities that drive their behavior when interacting with others. In addition, it provides insight into others’ styles—bosses, direct reports, teammates, or colleagues—along with tips to help leaders better understand how to make more meaningful connections with people of various styles. The Everything DiSC model, featured below, displays the high-level personality characteristics of each style.
When you combine the insights delivered from the DiSC profile report to the “outsight” that the LPI provides, you can engage a leader in a tailored conversation about their leadership. For example, consider two of the behaviors that are part of Enable Others to Act: Actively listens to diverse points of view (# 9); and Treats others with dignity and respect (#14). As you look at the DiSC style descriptors above, you might conclude that leaders with the Dominance style may have difficulty with these behaviors. Indeed, people with the D Style tend to be very driven and results-oriented. To people with different styles, statements that D Style leaders believe are honest, clear and efficient may feel disrespectful and rude. And their desire to get to results quickly may make others feel like their views were not fully considered. D Style leaders may also need to work very hard to remember to celebrate accomplishments and victories. In fact, the description of the Dominance style includes the following: “When you reach your goals, you may not always take the time to celebrate. Instead, your attention tends to quickly shift to the next goal.”
Now let’s consider the Practice of Challenge the Process, which involves looking outward for innovative ways to improve taking risks. Because people with a Conscientiousness style tend to value accuracy, stability, and precision, these risk-taking behaviors can feel very uncomfortable. They ask lots of detailed, analytic questions about new ideas and tend to want lots of time to make decisions and assess risks. The unknown aspects of experimentation and taking risks go against their nature.
When using the LPI and DiSC tools together, it’s critically important to note that there is no “best” DiSC Style for leaders to have. D Style leaders can absolutely excel at both Enable Others to Act and Encourage The Heart and C Style leaders can engage frequently in Challenge the Process behaviors. It just may take more work.
As a coach, the beauty of using these models together is that you can help leaders understand they will likely need to be more focused, more intentional, and employ more strategies to ensure their innate preferences do not inhibit their progress. There is strong value in the combined power of the internal and external views offered by DiSC and LPI respectively. And for a coach, that’s value well worth leveraging as we “liberate the leader in everyone!”
This article first appeared in The Leadership Challenge Newsletter at www.leadershipchallenge.com. It was co-authored by Amy Dunn, a Certified Professional Coach and a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge. Amy’s work focuses on facilitation, coaching, talent management, team building, and meeting design. She can be reached at [email protected].