How the DiSC Personality Assessment Can Strengthen Public Health Leadership

August 04, 2022 | ASTHO Staff

The DiSC profile is a personal assessment tool used to empower people to improve their teamwork, communication, and productivity. It is based off the DiSC Model of Behavior developed by William Moulton Marston, a physiological psychologist, in the book entitled "Emotions of Normal People." Marston believed that you could observe behavioral patterns and preferences in people by watching how they responded to problems, pace, people, and procedures and protocols.

The assessment breaks into four components: dominance (D), influence (i), steadiness (S), and conscientiousness (C). Once a DiSC assessment is completed, it scores which personality aspect is most prevalent for an individual.

  • A high dominance (D) score signifies a person tends to be confident and focused on getting things done and achieving results.
  • Individuals with a high influence (i) score focus on interacting with people and building connections!
  • People who have a high steadiness (S) score tend to focus on a steady pace and place a true emphasis on teamwork.
  • Lastly, those with a high conscientiousness (C) score tend to make sure that they are following rules and regulations. They want things to be accurate and of high quality.

DELPH ccholars Halina Palacios and Nathifa Miller at a 2022 program eventIn a recent session for the Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health (DELPH) program, we were able to share with the DELPH scholars what the DiSC assessment measured, how to analyze their DiSC results, and how to utilize the DiSC profile in working with their teams. This month, we are highlighting two of our DELPH scholars and asking what their takeaways are after attending our DiSC assessment session. We are pleased to introduce you to Halina Palacios, chief of clinic services at Commonwealth Health Care Corporation within the Northern Mariana Islands, and Nathifa Miller, a workforce development manager and equity specialist at the Colorado School of Public Health Center for Public Health Practice.

What are your takeaways from the DiSC presentation?

NATHIFA MILLER: I had never done the DiSC assessment, but it was provided in such a way that had us pause and really consider how to create diversity within teams, not just in terms of race and ethnicity, but as it relates to growth mindset. The way it was presented to us, in our session with ASTHO, really made it practical to understand how one person can leverage multiple personality styles. For instance, you may have both a C and an S style, and those different styles can work together to meet the outcomes that you want for your projects and tasks, or even to strengthen inclusivity within your team. If you spend time learning the components of DiSC and understand that they can be fluid and not rigid, then it can help to support the outcomes you're looking to achieve.

HALINA PALACIOS: It's always great to hear about the strengths, but one of the best things that I like to take away from assessments is learning about the areas that I need to improve. For DiSC, I really appreciated seeing the areas where I scored lower. I know that that's a part that needs to change if I want to continue to be a great leader.

Why is it important to spend time developing your own leadership?

MILLER: It’s important to spend time recognizing that you are a leader, maybe in your community, maybe with family, maybe on the job, maybe with a title, maybe without a title. When I think about the time we spend developing our leadership, there is a quote from Sheryl Sandberg that just resonates with me. And that is, "Leadership is about making others better as a result of my presence and making sure that impact lasts in my absence." Leadership is an ongoing process that requires being purposeful as we evolve.

What advice do you have for those looking to get started on their leadership journey?

PALACIOS: Honestly, I like to say, let it happen naturally. Be a partner. Be an advocate. Motivate yourself and motivate those around you. When you get into your leadership journey, a lot of the people that I've spoken to, even in our DELPH program, didn't know it was happening. But if you continue to do the work that you're meant to do in a meaningful manner, it'll happen.

MILLER: Be very intentional with who you're connecting with and the organizations you're connecting with. Get connected with a program like DELPH. Invest in yourself. Invest time in the program. Invest in the people in your cohort because if you invest in the people, you invest in yourself. DELPH offers tools and strategies that other programs just don't have. They allow us to show up as we are. The program takes who we are and helps us grow to become professionals in the leadership positions we desire to be in.

What advice would you give to the next generation of public health scholars?

PALACIOS: The best advice that I can give is that communication is key. It opens every door that we're trying to open for public health. This means voicing your concerns and opinions, as well as those of your community. But it also means listening effectively and taking that in with substance. Whether you agree or disagree with what you're hearing, all those aspects and opinions are important to take in before you start using your voice so that you know who your target audience is and how you need to deliver your message. Communication allows you to continue to do the public health work that we are inspired to do.