top of page
  • Alan MacNab

What is a DISC Profile Assessment and What Does it Measure?

dISC profile assessment

The DISC profile assessment is a tool which provides individuals with insight into their natural behavioural and communication style.

Used as a method of insight and personal development, it helps people to understand themselves and how the can work more effectively with others.

Extensively used by thousands of companies across the globe each year, the DISC assessment model provides a simple to understand method for personal, professional and C21 leadership development. In particular it provides leaders and employees a way to improve their self-awareness, their levels of social and emotional intelligence as well as their communicate skills.

The DISC assessment maps out our natural behavioural traits and tendencies using 4 distinct styles of behaviour:

D for Dominance

I for Influence

S for Steadiness

C for Conscientiousness

A DISC profiles will represent an individual’s behavioural preferences as some blended combination of the 4 styles rather than one single style.

As the two examples show below a person will typically will have a blended profile exhibiting all 4 behaviour styles.

disc profile styles
Examples of DISC profiles across the 4 styles

This Article Contains

Why DISC Assessments can be of Benefit in the Workplace

Wherever you work, your leadership journey and future career success will be greatly determined by how well you understand, interact and communicate with other people around you.

DISC can be of benefit to you in a range of work and personal circumstances.

For example, once understood and effectively used, the DISC model can help you:

  • Increase your own self-awareness by showing you how to respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve communication related problems

  • Improve relationships with others by recognising the day to day communication needs of work colleagues, team members or stakeholders

  • Enhance your negotiation skills by recognising and responding to other client and buyer styles

  • Improve your change management techniques and ability to sell visionary ideas and concepts by recognising that different people respond to workplace change in different ways.

  • Manage people more effectively by giving insight into your own leadership preferences and the tendencies and traits of the people you lead.

Once you understand the DISC framework, using the model will open your eyes to new ways of seeing the world and the people around you.

This simple, but highly effective model will give you a powerful insight into understanding your own behavioural and motivational preferences, as well as the styles and preferences of the people you interact with - be that at work or in your personal life.

"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate" - Carl Jung, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst

The Background to DISC Assessment

For thousands of years going back to the Greeks, Romans and Eastern civilisations, great medical practitioners and thinkers have been trying to classify the mind and human behaviours.

Despite all the thinking and philosophising over thousands of years, it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th Century that an American psychologist by the name of Dr William Marston was able to propose a simple model of human behaviour that could be easily applied and understood.

Although better known for his early contribution to the lie detector and polygraph test, as well as being the comic book creator of Wonder Woman, the American psychologist developed a new theory to explain people's emotional responses.

This work was eventually published in 1928 in a book entitled “The Emotions of Normal People” and was the first to layout the principles of the framework that we know today as DISC.

Two Key DISC Dimensions

Although DISC describes four distinct styles of behaviour, the framework is fundamentally based on a two dimension horizontal and vertical axis.

two disc dimensions

These two dimensions (shown on the image as a red top to bottom dimension and a black left to right dimension), reflect fundamental aspects of human nature and can be viewed as independent concepts.

The vertical red dimension is best described as the level of human activity, ranging from active to thoughtful.

Individuals with DISC styles at the top of the DISC circle tend to be extrovert, energetic and lively and are often described as confident, dynamic, and bold.

Traditional descriptions of the framework would imply that individuals in this sector think of themselves as being more powerful and in control of the environment they are operating in. Due to this perspective, they frequently make efforts to alter their situation.

People with styles that fall toward the bottom of the circle, on the other hand, tend to be more introverted and move more slowly. They are sometimes characterised as being composed, methodical, and meticulous.

The horizontal aspect runs from thinking and questioning on the left side to through to feeling and accepting on the right. Individuals with DISC styles that sit toward the left side of the circle are naturally more sceptical in nature and are often described as logic-orientated and needing facts.

A traditional description of people with these traits suggests that they see the environment as challenging and antagonistic. In other words, they intuitively withhold trust from others and new ideas until those outside elements can be thoroughly evaluated and understood.

In contrast, individuals with styles on the right hand side of the circle are inherently more receptive and more open to ideas and are often described as more people-orientated, empathetic and agreeable.

Traditionally, they are more aligned people and ideas in the surrounding environment. In essence, they are more likely to see the people and ideas around them as favourable and are thus inclined to trust them.

What Do the DISC Styles Mean

Building on the two axis model described above, the 4 DISC behaviours of D for Dominance, I for Influence, S for Steadiness and C for Conscientiousness can be placed into the corresponding quadrants that are created by the two axis.

People falling within the Dominance quadrant place great emphasis on achieving results, they focus on the goals and are full of self-confidence in themselves and the task at hand.

Typical Behaviours traits that they would exhibit include Seeing the big picture, being quite blunt and quick to respond and get to the point, keen to accept challenges.

People falling within the Influence quadrant place greater emphasis on influencing or persuading others, they are open and approachable and are keen to build relationships

Typical Behaviours traits that they would exhibit include showing great enthusiasm, being optimistic, likes to collaborate. They also don’t like to be ignored.

People falling within the Steadiness quadrant place greater emphasis on cooperation, sincerity and dependability. Typical behaviours traits that they would exhibit include not being rushed and working at an even pace, they have a calm manner and approach to life and like to create a harmonious and supportive working environment.

People falling within the Conscientiousness quadrant place greater emphasis on quality and accuracy, systematic analysis and a desire for rigour and expertise. Typical behaviours traits that they would exhibit include enjoying independence and working on their own, fears being wrong and craves details to mitigate risk.

12 DISC Style Blends

As mentioned previously in this article, the 4 quadrant framework is DISC at its most basic and would be too simplistic a method for describing an individuals behavioural style. People are complex human beings and it is very very rare that an individual would fall specifically into just one of the 4 quadrants.

The DISC model therefore recognises that we use all quadrants in our day to day lives and are a complex blend of all 4 styles with overlaps between the quadrants.

What the DISC assessment does is bring to the fore our most commonly used tendancies and provides us with a behavioural assessment that is more rounded, multi-dimenional and realistic.

For example in the diagrams below you can see profiles of individuals have a primary, secondary and even a tertiary style coming to the fore.

In this example we can see the 4 quadrant model broken down further into 3 segments per quadrant making up a 12 segment model.

In the example on the right we can see an example of an actual DISC assessment map of a person.

The dot identifying their result places the person in the S quadrant but also close to the I quadrant, Breaking the model down into a 12 segment model allows us to more definitively identify this individual as an SI style.

DISC Priorities and Shading

Modern day DISC assessments allow for an even more detailed assessment of an individual’s traits.

In this example of a DISC assessment map there are eight words circled around the map. They are , Action, Enthusiasm, Collaboration, Support, Stability, Accuracy, Challenge and Results.

These 8 words are Priorities areas. Areas where someone would focus most of their energy. Everyone will have at least 3 priority energy areas and at most up to 5.

In this example the individual has an SI profile and so had priority energy focus on Enthusiasm, Collaboration and Support. They also shading in the Action and Accuracy areas which are not usually associated with the SI style.

Once this more detailed picture is defined as part of an assessment, the DISC model can build a much more comprehensive picture to understand their traits and how they can adapt when dealing with individuals with similar or radically different profiles.

You will notice that the DISC quadrants come in 4 primary colours of green, blue, red and yellow. The colours are used as a way of remembering the quadrants only and do not mean anything in relation to the model.

As DISC is not a copyrighted model, different solutions providers align different colours to the quadrants to differentiate themselves and as a way of branding their model.

What Does DISC Measure

DISC is often referred to as a personality assessment tool, and that it measures an individual’s personality. This understanding is however is incorrect. If you decide to take part in a more detailed DISC assessment, steer away from any Company advertising DISC as a “personality assessment” tool.

A good way of thinking about an individuals total personality is to think about it as an iceberg. We all know that the majority of the iceberg is unseen and below the surface and so it is with the personality make-up of humans.

Below the waterline and hidden from view are

  • our deep-seated values

  • our child-hood influences

  • the social and physical environment that we grew up in

  • key people who have influenced us both positively and negatively.

  • our response to basic human needs such as food, shelter, security etc

What Does DISC Measure

DISC only assesses your visible tendencies and preferences — your observable patterns of behaviour. - the portion of the iceberg directly above the waterline.

Although skills, knowledge and your IQ are also observable, DISC does not measure these things either. It also does not specifically measure items below the surface of the Iceberg to give a personality score.

We do however need to consider however that things below the water line shape and influence our observable behaviour and that behaviour is an expression of personality.

So whilst DISC does not measure core personality characteristics such as needs, core beliefs and values, personality characteristics are NOT measured by DiSC, but are likely to come into play.

DISC can therefore be said to capture elements of personality and uses personality trait adjectives to to describe aspects of an individuals behavior for example:

D: Assertive, Dominant

I: Outgoing, Sociable

S: Contented, good-natured

C: Logical, reserved

What DISC Style Are You

To attain an accurate DISC profile assessment score you would normally be asked to complete an questionnaire of approximately 60 probing questions about what you think and how you interact with others and your environment.

This assessment would provide you with a result which would show you primary and secondary disc personality types as well as how strongly you correlate to teach type.

If you would like to find out more about this detailed assessment, how to take it and the benefits then contact us at or read more about how we can help you take the test and support you with DISC leadership coaching.

The DISC Assessment - The Key Takeaways

DISC is an online self-assessment test whch is taken by answering around 60 questions.

When you take a DISC assessment you are provided with a detailed profile report. The report will provide you with feedback on your common behavioural style as well as suggesttions as to how you might use this informatiom for future personal and professional development.

DISC does not measure intelligence, aptitude, neither does it interpret feelings, thoughts, personality, character and deep-seated values.

You can never be certain of what a client, your boss, your coworkers, or even a close friend, is contemplating or feeling. But keep an eye on them and pay great attention to what they are saying and doing. Those visible actions tell and show you what it will take to earn their trust, confidence, and willingness to build a relationship with you.

A DISC assessment report can provide you with an excellent way to develop your leadership skills.

67 views0 comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page