Last week, I attended a two-hour presentation entitled "The Art of Connecting with Clients and Colleagues." The talk was presented by Tim Wilkinson, Head of Professional Development at ING Investment Management. The talk focused on helping financial advisors build trust and connect with their clients. At the beginning of his talk, Tim asked us to participate in the following exercise. I encourage you to try this exercise with some of your colleagues or friends:
- Take out an 8 1/2" X 11" sheet of paper and fold it in half. Then close your eyes.
- Tear the right corner.
- Fold the paper in half.
- Tear the left corner.
- Tear the bottom corner.
- Fold the paper in half.
- Tear the bottom corner.
Nobody is allowed to ask any questions during this exercise. It's important to have your eyes closed until after you complete Step 7. Ask everyone to unfold their sheets of paper and open their eyes. You will notice that even though everyone received the exact same instructions, everyone's sheet of paper will not look like anyone else's. The purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate how different perspectives result in different outcomes.
Then Tim introduced us to the DISC methodology which I first learned about back in 2003. DISC is a behavioral model based on the work of William Moulton Marston, PhD that examines the behavior of individuals in their environment. Behavioral characteristics are grouped into four major "personality styles." All individuals exhibit characteristics of all four styles, but will tend to exhibit the characteristics of one particular style most often. These four styles are:
- Dominance: High "D" people are described as very active in dealing with problems and challenges. They tend to be forceful, driven, determined, ambitious and pioneering.
- Influence: High "I" people are described as influential, convincing, magnetic, enthusiastic, persuasive, warm, demonstrative, trusting and optimistic.
- Steadiness: High "S" people are described as calm, relaxed, patient, predictable, deliberate, stable and consistent.
- Compliance: High "C" people are described as careful, cautious, neat, systematic, diplomatic, accurate and tactful.
D people ask: "What are we going to do?" They trust competence.
I people ask: "Who is part of the team?" They trust openness.
S people ask: "How are we going to get this done?" They trust kindness.
C people ask: "Why do we need to do this?" They trust expertise.
In order to identify each of our own personal behavioral styles, Tim asked all of us to come up to the front of the room. The first question he asked us was, "Do you consider yourself more fast-paced and outspoken or more cautious and reflective?" People who consider themselves more fast-paced and outspoken stood at the front of the room while the more cautious and reflective people stood at the back of the room. The second question he asked us was, "Do you consider yourself more questioning and skeptical or accepting and warm?" People who consider themselves more questioning and skeptical stood on the left-hand side of the room while the accepting and warm people stood on the right-hand side of the room. Tim told us that if you consider yourself fast-paced, outspoken, questioning and skeptical, you are a D person. I people are fast-paced, outspoken, accepting and warm. S people are cautious, reflective, accepting and warm. C people are cautious, reflective, questioning and skeptical.
When I took the DISC assessment in 2003, 2005 and 2012, I learned that I am primarily a S person, but I also have many C traits. When I read the description of Steadiness, I agreed it sounded a lot like me. I value relationships, sincerity and dependability. I tend to be cautious, careful, accommodating, soft-spoken and humble. In the work environment, I tend to perform in a consistent and predictable manner. I'm good at creating a stable, harmonious work environment.
At Morgan Stanley, I work on a team with six other financial advisors. Two of the financial advisors on our team were unable to attend the presentation, but I'm pretty sure that one of the senior financial advisors who was not at the presentation has an I behavioral style (I'll call him "I"). Among the people who attended the presentation, one person on our team has a dominant behavioral style (I'll call him "D"), another person displays the compliance behavioral style (I'll call her "C"), and two other financial advisors on my team have the steadiness behavioral style (I'll call them S1 and S2). Most people probably think that successful financial advisors have either the D (dominant) or I (influencing) behavioral style, but the truth is, you can become a successful financial advisor no matter what your behavioral style is. You don't even have to be an extrovert to be successful at sales. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive and To Sell is Human, the most successful salespeople are not extroverts, but instead tend to be ambiverts. Source: http://www.danpink.com/2013/01/why-it-pays-to-be-an-ambivert-and-why-you-probably-are-one
What I enjoyed most about the presentation was learning more about my coworkers' behavioral styles. Now, I have a better understanding of what their priorities are as well as their pain points. For example, on our team, Financial Advisor "D" (Dominance) values results, action and competency. He detests wasted time, small talk, indecisiveness, and challenges to his authority. Financial Advisor "I" (Influencing) values enthusiasm, action and relationships. He dislikes dry or dull analysis, cold or detached people, negativity and pessimism. Financial Advisors "S1" and "S2" value sincerity, relationships and dependability. They are bothered by pushy people, sudden change and conflict. Financial Advisor "C" (Compliance) values quality, competency and dependability. She doesn't like emotional or illogical people, personal questions and pressure.
According to a free online DISC assessment I found online, I am a blend between S (51%), C (42%) and I (7%). When I took the test, I received the following description of my behavioral style: "You are tenacious and determined to follow a course of action - to achieve objectives. You are a clear thinker. You have an inner need to be objective and analytical. You like to pursue a definite course of action. You respond to logic rather than emotion. You are likely to be particularly good at handling challenging technical assignments." Even if you're not in sales, I think it's important to identify your behavioral style as well as the behavioral styles of the people you interact with on a regular basis. This includes your boss, your coworkers, your clients, your spouse or significant other, your children, your relatives and your friends. Learning more about yourself and the important people in your life will help you develop better connections with them. I believe that knowing how to form strong connections with others is one of the most worthwhile goals you can pursue in life. To learn more about your behavioral style, click on DISC assessment.