In his book, Surrounded by Idiots (public library), Thomas Erikson creates a roadmap to help leaders better assemble and manage their teams. He describes four types of behavior into which all of us fall. Once we identify our category, we can learn to work with and communicate with our teams more effectively.
The system he uses to describe behavior is called DISA, an acronym for the following (as well as the colors he uses): Dominant (red), Inspiring (yellow), Stable (green), and Analytical (blue).
The types are significantly different from each other.
Surrounded by Idiots, Thomas Erikson, page 12
Reds are focused on the task and its immediacy, enjoy challenges and can be dominant. Yellows tend to be more interested in relationships and not in routines but like velocity. The most common type is green: they value connection and relationships, support their team, dislike conflict, and do not like change. Finally, blues are analytical, slow to react, meticulous, and are task-oriented.
Surrounded by Idiots, Thomas Erikson, page 13
Some people have more than one type, while others can have up to three. If you have more than one, they will be contiguous: dominant and inspiring, inspiring and stable, stable and analytical, and so on.
If you are wondering, my type is Di, meaning my main type is dominant, but I am also inspiring. I found my type by doing this assessment, and not only do I know my type, but everyone on our team knows theirs as well. At Celaque, we perform this assessment on everyone that we hire and are interviewing. Therefore, before making a decision, we make sure the person’s strengths match what the role requires.
As a dominant, I have a marked sense of urgency, but I am not as likely to get into the details. As inspiring, I love forming relationships with others and getting to know them, and I can also be spontaneous. Mostly, I am a results-oriented person and am quick to react. I like thinking about the big picture, but I am not in the happiest of moods if I need to get into the nitty-gritty. Over the years, I have learned how to be very meticulous, but that is not where I am at my strongest. I love working with other types because we can support each other to make strong and distinctly skilled teams.
As I have built Celaque, I have used the information from these assessments to make sure we create diverse teams and so that the person’s strengths match their roles. For instance, our accounting team has many analytical types, which I find extremely reassuring. In the past, they have found any tiny mistake that we have made and corrected it. On our sales team, we have a little bit of everything, but people tend to have inspiring as a predominant type.
The more different types you have in a company, the better. But beware: human beings are complex with many layers. We cannot be boiled down to a type and make all of our decisions based on that. These types are instead a roadmap to guide us in our hiring decisions and putting together our teams.
Once you have assembled your teams, you will probably not constantly think about someone’s color personality. At some point, a team member might say something that reminds you of their type, and their behavior will make sense, especially if their type is completely different from yours. You will respond appropriately, understand where they are coming from, or find a way to communicate so that the person will understand you well.
The DISA methodology has been extremely helpful for me as a leader in Celaque, and I hope that it will help you, too, as you move forward in building your company.
Erickson, Thomas. Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life). St. Martin’s Essentials, July 30, 2019. E-book.