The highly anticipated DC Comics film Wonder Woman exceeded expectations last weekend by capturing $100.5 million at the box office. Wonder Woman has been saving the world for more than 75 years, from the comic books and newspaper strips of the 1940s to Lynda Carter’s 1970s TV show. Like many young girls, I grew up making paper-cuff armbands with friends in my neighborhood, deflecting bullets and outmaneuvering the (imaginary) bad guys. This weekend’s Wonder Woman also lassoed the honor of “best opening by a female director” for Patty Jenkins.
But how does this relate to behavioral style?
The original writer and producer of Wonder Woman, Dr. William Moulton Marston, held a Ph.D. from Harvard University and spent most of his adult life—not as a cartoon writer—but as a teaching and consulting psychologist. Writing under the pen name Charles Moulton, Dr. Marston had great success with his Wonder Woman comic books. But he had a prolific writing career in psychology before he wrote superhero stories.
Marston’s Harvard dissertation on lie detection led to the development of one the earliest polygraphs. And his book Emotions of Normal People (1928) forms the basis of the DISC behavior profile.
Understanding those around us
In Emotions, Marston outlines four dimensions of behavior, now refined through years of research but essentially the same: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance (hence the name DISC). These four categories describe how we engage with Problems, People, Pace, and Procedures. By giving us unbiased language to talk about human behavioral style, DISC assessment gives us a powerful communication tool.
For example, do you have someone in your office who is expressive, animated, outgoing, and highly verbal? How about someone who is cool, aloof, hard to read, and analytical? While our natural tendency with people unlike ourselves is to criticize or stereotype, DISC helps bring awareness and understanding of both our own behavior and the behavior of others, with neutral language to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of each type.
Using behavioral style beyond the movies
Dr. Marston used his behavioral style insight to note the absence of a powerful female superhero and create a heroine to fill that roll. At MasterMinds Leadership, we use the DISC assessment to build teams and maximize performance. Understanding behavioral style can help improve communication and diffuse workplace animosity; it can also be used on the front-end to make sure you get the right person in the job.
Would you like to see how an understanding of behavioral styles can work for you? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a sample assessment. DISC may not save the world, but it might save your company.