In my last blog, I introduced the DISC temperament framework, made a case for why it is the new “go-to” tool for organizations and set up my blog series on each of the four behavior styles. In this blog, I am going to do a deep dive into the “D” or “Driver” style in the framework. Drivers are the out-going, task-oriented type and they are all about ACTION and RESULTS. It is almost hard to write a blog about D’s without typing in all caps. D’s are direct, bold and decisive. They are often larger than life figures that can be described as a bull in a china shop. They like being in charge, calling the shots and are not easily intimidated.
As I review each type, I want to highlight a characteristic of each behavior style that I think is most important for the other temperaments to understand. For the D, one of the most important things to understand about them is the nature of their relationship with conflict. That is D’s really don’t mind conflict. In fact, sometimes they actually enjoy it! The thing is, D’s generally don’t see conflict as a conflict, they see it as a lively debate, something they enjoy and often initiate.
So, let me give you an idea of how this might play out in organizational life. In a meeting, things start to heat up, voices are raised, people are running for cover, tempers are flaring and things feel like they are on the brink of being explosive when the D quickly pivots and starts inquiring about lunch plans. This can leave others flummoxed as they don’t understand how the D can go from intense conflict to small talk in a matter of minutes. But, one of the most important things to understand about D’s is that they heat up quickly and the cool down quickly. For D’s conflict is not personal, they say what they mean and they mean what they say. They don’t hold grudges. They just lay it all on the table and keep moving forward.
Obviously, there are huge benefits to this way of interacting with conflict. With D’s, you don’t have to “read between the lines” or guess if they are mad or wonder if they mean what they are saying. In organizational life and in leadership dealing with conflict directly and moving on is extremely important as team morale can be impacted by a conflict-averse leader or teams who keep the peace at the cost of productivity.
However, D’s will be well-served to understand that not everyone experiences conflict the same way and if they aren’t careful, they could find themselves in situations that are relationally expensive. When they feel their impulse kick in to go full throttle on what they see as a robust discussion, they need to slow down, take in the emotional data in their environment and calibrate their response to those around them. If they lean into their affinity for direct communication and conflict without being aware of the impact it is having on others, it can create a team climate which is the exact opposite of the one they want, characterized by withheld information and stunted communication. D’s who are aware of this though, and able to moderate their communication as needed, are in a great position to leverage their natural ease with conflict to create high-performing teams that openly debate ideas and take their team to new heights.
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