The Advantages of Understanding What Makes Your People Tick


Personally, as a leader, either the DISC or the Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator (MBTI) were powerful tools for me. They gave me the ability to better understand those around me which was vital to developing teams that worked together and achieved results.

Donald T. Phillips’ book, Lincoln on Leadership, gives a example of the effectiveness of knowing your people.

Some background: In 1861 Great Britain and the U.S. were squabbling over the capture of the British vessel Trent which had two Confederate commissioners aboard. Lincoln’s inner circle were talking war with England, but Lincoln, showing deep understanding of what was going on with the nations and his people told this story:

I remember when I was a lad, there were two fields behind our house separate by a fence. In each field there was a big bulldog, and these dogs spent the whole day racing up and down, snarling and yelping at each other through the fence. One day they both came at the same moment to a hole in it, big enough to let either of them through. Well, gentlemen, what do you think they did? They just turned tail and scampered away as fast as they could in opposite directions. Now, England and America are like those bulldogs.[1]

Lincoln knew his team as well as the heartbeat of the nations involved. This knowledge gave him an advantage that many leaders don’t apprehend.

Whether you use MBTI or the DISC doesn’t matter—the point is use one (and there are many consultants like myself who can help you if necessary) and gain a similar leadership advantage as Lincoln.

Here’s what I’ve found:

  • Using these instruments does not put people in a box. It expands your knowledge about them. Your most important asset is probably your employees, so why not spend time and money to get a more thorough understanding what makes them tick?
  • Using these instruments will help you know three basic elements of your employee’s personality—communication, decision making and how they process information. All three are vital when leading an effective team because cookie-cutter leaders—leaders who communicate the same way to all of their people; leaders who believe everyone makes decisions and gathers information just as they do—don’t have highly-functioning teams. Candidly, they have high employee turnover.

Every leaders should make this commitment to better understand the ins and outs of their people’s basic nature and temperament. If they do, they’ll not only better understand how and why their people respond and work the way the do, but they’ll better appreciate each individual and the qualities they bring to the team.


Wayne Hasting is an author, speaker and business consultant. His latest book, The Way Back From Loss is available on Amazon and other fine booksellers.

Wayne’s leadership book, Trust Me, is also available from Amazon.

CLICK HERE to gain access to Wayne’s booklet on “How To Write A Remarkable Book Proposal.”





[1] Donald T. Phillips, Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times, (New York: Warner Books, 1992), 35


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