Using DISC and EQ to overcome issues with confidence in leadership and implement change.
31 October 2022, By Corlia Nel
About The Exercise
We recently conducted a two-day leadership retreat, designed as a bonding time for our client’s leadership team. It turned out to be an excellent exercise in utilising DISC and TEIQue assessments to identify and solve some of the key problems the leadership team were facing.
About The Team
Eighty percent of the client’s executive leadership team members are relatively new to executive level management, with newly appointed members who only joined the team a couple of months ago, and the new MD taking up her position after being with the company a few years as Marketing Manager.
It is altogether a relatively young leadership team with the oldest member being 42, the youngest member 30 and the MD only 37 years of age. The company is going through two major changes in the near future and the team needed to create a level of comfort with each other, a deeper understanding of each other’s behaviours, values and emotional resources, in order to be able to navigate the future difficulties with the rest of the staff members, who are working at various satellite offices all over South Africa.
The current culture of the company is really positive with high levels of communication and the new leadership team has been able to keep this positivity going.
Unfortunately, the team is struggling to implement difficult changes to prepare the business for growth. They have not been exposed to having really difficult conversations with people and making tough decisions. The company has an extremely strong footprint in the South African cosmetic market, and their growth has mostly developed organically.
They have identified the following two “issues” lacking in their collective leadership capabilities:
- Delegation – they are scared to delegate for fear of losing control over sensitive issues/potential problems.
- They do not know how to take up authority when the company is under pressure/having to implement big changes which may result in job losses or job restructuring.
The Problems Highlighted Through DISC
All 6 leadership members were asked to complete individual DISC assessments, in order to understand the behaviour profiles behind each.
All 6 individuals’ levels of Compliance are high on the behavioural scores. Two people (the Marketing Manager and the Sales Manager’s Dominance profiles are above the line and also much higher in relation to the 4 others, whose Dominance is well below the middle line.
The low dominance individuals are naturally slow to accept change, as they fear it may result in making mistakes. Meanwhile, they feel that the other two may be quite rash in their approaches to others and that they “drive” too hard and are not sensitive enough when it comes to people engagement.
The conflict averseness and mild-mannered styles of the individuals low on Dominance, are at the same time somewhat of a ‘stone in the shoes’ of the higher dominance individuals, as they feel that they should be more assertive and direct to obtain results even if it means having conflict with the subordinate teams.
We had the opportunity to complete most of the subordinate’s behavioural profiles (about 95%) and the majority of individuals within this company display risk averse, high compliance behaviour. About 80% are also more introspective rather than gregarious in their communication styles, which is mirrored by the senior leadership team – 80% of the leadership team display low influence scales and only 2 display high influence see figure 1.
The DISC results therefore, tell us a lot about the problem the team is facing and why, allowing us to work towards finding the right solution.
Identifying Solutions Through EQ
Not only did the facilitation focus on unpacking the team’s individual behavioural styles, but we also used the TEIQue (Trait Emotional Intelligence) assessment in order to assist them to become more conscious leaders who are aware of their character strengths and weaknesses and to help them to work on specific emotional traits and to discover the true reasons for some of their actions and inactions.
We found that the team as a whole scored on average high on Adaptability and Self-Motivation. Meanwhile, all but two members of the team scored in the mid-high range on assertiveness. See figure 3 of the averaged out 4 main factors and 15 facets of the team results.
Collective EQ Aggregate Results of 6 Team Members
The TEIQue results were used to obtain team input into the following statement:
People don’t necessarily resist change, they resist BEING changed (Irving Borwick)
We then applied the below TEIQue emotional traits facets which were chosen by the team, to understand employees’ emotions and how they approach the emotions of others, while building their own capacities to a more positive level.
How can we, as the leadership team, help people to understand the changes that are coming, without neglecting their inputs and without decreasing their value?
Firstly, the Emotional Factor (see figure 3.) was unpacked and explored from the teams’ collective strength. This was done to help them understand the emotional energy needed to bring about the changes that they need to make, while managing the emotional challenges of the people in the business.
Building their abilities to understand not only their own emotions around the future changes, but also to be able to gauge other people’s (the rest of the company employees) feelings and expressions.
Rather communicate how each of them feel (within respectful boundaries), than being perceived by those who need their support as “emotionally cold”. Although they may sometimes fail to find the right words to express themselves, they can use each other as sounding boards before attending meetings/planning conversations with employees.
They realised that they may sometimes fail at controlling their feelings and when they do suffer from negative thoughts and disruptive emotions outbursts, that they are able to change the unpleasant moods through the collective team and assist each other.
The team identified that most of them were not behaviorally assertive and forceful individuals and may therefore not drive with force of character and can be seen as too passive. They also understood that they mostly dislike having difficult conversations or conflict within teams, but they did not understand that assertiveness does not mean you need to be going to extremes to be effective. Being direct and forthright even when it is uncomfortable, can clear up misunderstandings and actually ensure that conflict doesn’t arise. The collective Trait EQ in the team is strong and can be applied to use psychological maturity to drive their goals and objectives forward.
We used the behavioural style to understand how they will approach the task at hand, coupled with the TEIQue results to reach an amicable solution within the leadership team to deal with conflict in a more assertive manner. This also allows them to keep their focus on the “audience” they are dealing with, while their style of approach to the changes envisaged is also influenced by their “understanding of emotions” (Emotional factor of the TEIQUE).
They were able to practice a few scenarios with each other at the retreat, and the team became much more confident in themselves and reported positive feedback since implementing their newly acquired confidence to managing the new changes in the business.
Learn More About TEIQue & DISC
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