After completing the “Disc Personality Test” I found that I was an Interactive Style of leader which is characterized by seeking recognition and being ambitious. This style of leadership was based on personality points that determined that I was likely to be outgoing but also overly exuberant in my taking on responsibilities (Alessandra, 2016). I found the DISC test to be inaccurate. I have been in management for some time and I have never experienced any of the traits or outcomes that the DISC discussed. The problem I see in these tests is that they are broad in scope and seem to have highly subjective criteria for assessment. For example, stating that a person is “likely to be dreamy” is not exactly a evidence based characterization. For this reason, I view leadership as a complex skill that is entrenched in both inherent and learned traits.
Elements of Leadership
The concept of leadership is problematic because there are many definitions and interpretations of this quality. However, it can be agreed that there is a difference between leadership and management as defined by specific abilities and characteristics. For example, leaders have the ability to inspire change and motivate individuals, “Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (Northouse, 2013). Leaders may be managers, but by their nature, they are different than a manager because of their ability to inspire action. Managers typically follow specific function of managing and supervision described as “planning, organizing, staffing, and controlling” (Northouse, 2013). These functions of management are intended to carry out specific goals and necessary processes to achieve the mission or vison of a company. This is different than the leader who is establishing the mission or the vision of the company. For example, Steve Jobs established the vision for Apple and the managers within the company accomplished this mission by using the functions of management.
When viewed in terms of function within an organization, it becomes apparent that leaders and managers have different goals and objectives. Leaders have goals that are far reaching and broad in nature such as creating a successful international presence. In contrast to this vision, managers have goals that are based on the accomplishment of the mission or vision of an organization such as meeting production quotas or hiring the best people for the job. For example, Bill Gates is a leader because he created a vision for personal computing that would allow Microsoft to become the largest software supplier in the world (Netflix, 2012). In contrast to this, the managers at Microsoft would create strategies that would accomplish Gates’ vision through differentiation of products and expanding models such as Windows 7,8,10 etc. (Netflix, 2012).
The problem with leadership is that it is not always easily identified. A great deal of research has been committed in this area and there is still a great many unknown quantities in terms of what makes a person a good leader. Research in the early part of the 19th century began identifying different traits and skills associated with leaaders:
…being adaptable to situations, ambitious, cooperative, assertive, decisive, dependable, energetic, self-confident, tolerant of stress, and willing to assume responsibilities. Skills include being clever or intelligence, conceptually skilled, creative, diplomatic, effective communicators, organized, persuasive and socially skilled (Stodgill, 1957).
These traits sound reasonable, but like the DISC assessment they are broad in their concepts and applicable in too many situations. One of the primary issues with identifying specific traits in leadership is the fact that there has never been identified any specific pattern for leadership. This is problematic because individuals with these traits can sometimes be good leaders and sometime not (Northouse, 2013). As such, it is necessary to continue researching leadership until more concrete associations can be identified. This means that assessments such as DISC and others should only be used as a reference rather than a determining metric for potential leaders.
Alessandra, T. (2016) The disc Platinum Rule Behavior Style Assessment custom edition for the University of Phoenix. (Personalized Reports)
Netflix (Producer), Sen, P. (Writer), & Sen, P. (Director). (2012). Steve jobs: The lost interview [Motion Picture]. USA.
Northouse, P. (2013). Leadership: Theory & Practice (6th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Stodgill, R. M. (Ed), & Coons, A.E (Ed). (1957). Leader behavior: Its description and measurement. Oxford, England: Ohio State University, Bureau of Business.