A few years ago, I engaged a leadership coach to carry out a workshop for my digital agency. The aim was to find ways to be more productive and efficient together. At the time, I didn’t realise how pivotal this would be to shaping my ability to attract talent today.
My team and I were asked to undertake a personality profiling exercise using the ‘DISC’ self-assessment behavioural tool — used by around 75 per cent of Fortune 500 companies. DISC is an acronym for describing four central personality traits organised in a quadrant: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. People can have a mixture of two styles, but only if they sit next to each other on the quadrant.
A Google search will tell you that most people believe that dominant and conscientious styles, or ideally a combination of both, make for the best leaders. The adjectives commanding, delegator, risk-taker, calculated, results-driven, competitive and decisive are synonymous with the D and C styles, and mirror what our society expects of a leader.
According to a recent article published in Bloomberg, corporate leadership roles are still male-dominated in Australia. And, women make up only 9.5% of board chair roles and 6.5% of CEOs across the nation’s biggest companies, according to data from the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors.
So, it’s fair to say that, when we think of leadership in this country, it’s with traditional heterosexual masculinity norms in mind. Leaders who don’t align with this picture often feel left with two choices: change or fail.