Use DISC profiles to better understand Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. James McElwee
  • 615th Contingency Operations Support Group
As the nights get shorter and the days get cooler the signs are showing that fall is quickly approaching. Fall not only signals the change in landscape when trees begin losing their leaves, it also signals the end of the Permanent Change of Station season and the change to our UNIT landscape.

By now, most of the PCS moves have taken place and your new Airmen are getting acclimated with their duties. Some of those Airmen will excel with the position you put them in, some will struggle. The truth is, it takes time to get our people acclimated and sometimes we don't have the luxury of picking and choosing the best fit for them. But as we become a smaller force and rely more and more on teams to innovate and produce results in order to get the mission done, we should take the time to understand what each Airman brings to the team.

One tool I learned while attending senior noncommissioned officer academy that might help us understand Airmen better is the DISC Profile. Based on responses to every day questions this tool helps determine strengths and weakness of an individual by placing them into one of four distinct behavioral models or types: DOMINANCE, INFLUENCE, STEADINESS, and CONSCIENTIOUS. The different types describe their behavior in various situations. For example; how they respond to challenges, how they influence others, their preferred pace, and how they might respond to rules and procedures. Let's discuss the different types so we can get more familiar with our Airmen and ourselves.

First is the DOMINANCE or D type. The title explains it all; these individuals are direct, fast-paced and self-confident. They are motivated by unique accomplishments, new opportunities and independence. When in conversation, D's love the bottom line. Refrain from repeating yourself, and focus on solutions rather than problems. Some famous D types include Donald Trump and David Letterman.

If you enjoy interacting with others, you are most likely an INFLUENCE or I type. I's are your over enthusiastic, trusting and optimistic Airmen. They are motivated by social recognition, group activities and relationships. Share your experiences with them and allow them to ask questions, but avoid overloading them with details. A couple famous I's are Robin Williams and Oprah Winfrey.

If you haven't discovered your type yet, you might be pegged as a STEADINESS or S type. S's are calm, predictable and consistent. They are great team players but fear change. Ensure you express your interest and avoid being confrontational or rude when in discussion with an S. Charlie Brown and Mr. Rogers are S types.

And finally, if your friends describe you as systematic, accurate and tactful you're likely the CONSCIENTIOUS or C type. C's need opportunities to gain knowledge, show their expertise and quality work. Beware, C's focus on facts and details so minimize "pep talk" or emotional language when communicating with them. Most famous C's include Albert Einstein and Bill Gates.

No one type has an inside track to success; all people have elements of each trait. However, one happens to be more dominant. Understanding all four helps us to learn about ourselves and how to motivate and communicate with others.