How your DiSC personality style affects work-life balance

I think most leaders I meet with recognize that work-life balance is an important goal for themselves and their team members.

Most agree that finding work-life balance is directly proportional to job satisfaction, mental health, physical health and retention of team members (people who are happy and healthy will stay with an employer longer and work harder than those who are living to work 24/7!).

So why is achieving work-life balance still a struggle for so many folks?

Why does it still top discussions and priority lists for individuals and organizations?

I think it’s partly because folks just don’t have strategies for achieving work-life balance and partly understanding how your own inherent behaviors affect work-life balance.

Self-awareness is the cornerstone of change. If you can’t see what’s contributing to or motivating certain behaviors, it’s unlikely you’re going to change.

What is DiSC style?

At Padraig, our coaches use a tool called Everything DiSC – both as an assessment tool to help individuals and as a workshop tool for teams and groups. Our regular readers will already be familiar with DiSC, but if you’re new to Padraig, basically this tool helps our clients understand themselves and others better. We all have a style and there is no right, wrong or “best” style.

By understanding your DiSC behavior style (and the styles of other team members, or of customers!), you can manage your interactions and relationships with them better. You gain insight into what motivates each personality and how to manage and communicate in the best way.

Each DiSC style has different strengths and weaknesses – and these all come into play with trying (desperately at times!) to achieve work-life balance.

DiSC style characteristics and work-life balance

Many times folks need reminding – or perhaps even permission – that they are entitled to establish boundaries at work. Having some ideas about HOW to do this can be very helpful.

But WHY you feel you can’t set boundaries may vary according to your DiSC personality style:

  • The Dominant “D” is a take-charge personality, and taking charge means seeing things through. Focused, direct and goal-oriented D styles might be organized at home and at work, but those work goals might keep a D working late. If that’s what it takes, a D will do it – and expect others to do the same to finish what they say they’ll finish on deadline.
  • The Influential “i” thrives on social interaction, loves new ideas and prefers flexibility. An i tends to prioritize volunteer and social engagements inside and outside of work, so balance may be less about making personal life a priority than making time for rest. The i style might be overly sensitive to disapproval from team members or bosses who are working long hours or after hours (or to put a positive spin on it, bosses who are inadvertently pressuring others to work long hours, too!).
  • Going a bit further, the Steady “S” tends toward people-pleasing. They want to make sure others have what they need and are content. They might long for work-life balance but will tend to avoid confrontation and have to work hard at expressing personal ideas (preferring consensus and predictability). The S values relationships and could sacrifice personal wants/needs to align with the majority or to please a corporate culture that makes work-life difficult – even if the relationships at home are important, too.
  • The Conscientious “C” works well independently and tirelessly, skilled at analytical thought and great at problem-solving. The C personality style does tend to get mired in details, which can lead to long hours at work (great for startups and corporations – but a risk factor for burnout personally and for others trying to keep pace). These are the folks who may be less interested in cultivating a wide-reaching personal life but would rather focus on one or two strong personal relationships. However, they are also the folks who can get so distracted by a problem or a challenge, they lose all track of time and forget to check-in or make time for others.

You can see how certain DiSC styles might be their own worst enemy when it comes to work-life balance, putting pressure on themselves to work harder or longer and striving for perfection – or people-pleasing and avoiding any whisper of confrontation if everyone else is working long hours. The behavior style of your boss can also be a challenge to asserting your needs for some work-life balance.

Imagine, for example, a Steady “S” person resolving to be off the clock by six but then caving in when a Dominant “D” boss announces he’s staying late to work on a project and ordering dinner in for everyone who stays to chip in.

Or, think about an Influential “i” team member who feels anxious about a meeting where there was criticism about not responding quickly enough to an important email. Feeling overly sensitive, this person now obsessively checks email all day and after hours to ensure they don’t miss anything again. What’s going to happen to work-life balance now?

When you complete one of our Everything DiSC Assessments and Guides, you’ll understand how to make the most of your strengths and work on improving your weak areas. It helps to understand what motivates you and how you like to communicate so that when you’re dealing with other personality styles you can adapt.

For example, when dealing with a Dominant “D” leader, you’re not going to want to ramble. The D personality style appreciates direct communication and being asked for opinions but cannot stand someone committing to something and then not following through, so don’t beat around the bush. If a D asks you to get something done ASAP, but you’re on your way to your partner’s very important event, say: “I have a commitment tonight, but I can clear tomorrow morning to tackle that. Do you want me to involve X person from X department as well?”

Remember that there are some strategies for achieving work-life balance that are effective for all personality styles. Having a few of these in your toolkit helps you to approach tasks, requests and obligations without sacrificing your personal life and well-being.

Similarly, there are ways to set boundaries at work and know when (and how!) you can say no without losing the respect of your boss, colleagues or team members. The more you practice setting boundaries, the easier it becomes for every DiSC personality style.

Coach’s Questions

How do you feel about your work-life balance right now? How could your own inherent behavior style affect your own work-life balance? What about for others on your team? What would help you make changes to achieve better work-life balance?

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