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Understanding the differences in people

5 Steps to Building the Christian Education Team

Zig Ziglar, in his book Top Performance, said, "Fifteen percent of the reason you get a job, keep a job, and move ahead in that job, is determined by your technical skills and knowledge...regardless of your profession. The other 85 percent has to do with your people skills and people knowledge."

A leader is only as effective as his ability to work with people, and every leader has experienced the frustration of trying to work with a person who is difficult to understand, motivate, or relate to. We seem unable to find an approach that will work with him or her although that approach works well with others.

A study of 100 self-made millionaires reveals the common denominator among them was the characteristic of seeing only good in people. They were people builders.

A good leader believes in and builds people. Understanding people plays an essential role in our ability to build people. On the team are people with different strengths, limitations, motivations, needs, and values. The challenge of leadership is to understand yourself and others and learn to work with differences in people on the team.

This month and next we will consider five steps to helping you build an effective team. To begin, we will look at the four basic behavioral styles. Next month, we will learn how to work with the different types of persons we find in our churches on our Christian education team.

STEP 1: Understand and Identity Behavioral Styles

You can recognize your own behavioral style and those of people you work with through observation. The DiSC• model of behavior is a great tool to help us. It identifies four different styles in people: Dominance style, Influencing style, Steadiness style, and Conscientious style. The D and I styles tend to be fast-paced, outgoing, competitive, and risk takers. The C and S styles tend to be slower-paced, cooperative, reserved, and risks avoiders.

The D and the C tend to be task-oriented, cautious in their relationships, cool, controlling, and calculating. The I and S tend to be people-oriented, relaxed, warm, supporting, and feeling.

In response to conflict, the D and I tend to vent their frustration while the S and C tend to suppress theirs. The D demands and becomes overly assertive, autocratic, unbending, and attempts to impose his thoughts and feelings on others. The I verbally, emotionally, and explosively attacks others and their ideas. He condemns and puts down others, and tells exactly how he feels. The S complies. To keep peace he gives in and appears to agree. He tolerates people and situations even if he disagrees. He wants to save relationship even if he is hurt. The C avoids conflict. He is less assertive and more controlled. He keeps his thoughts and ideas to himself, withdraws from people and/or undesirable situations, and plans his next move.

In shopping the D is impulsive. The I knows exactly where everything is in the store. The S brings a list and shops very efficiently. The C brings his coupons and calculator.

On the golf course the D could run over you with his cart and often plays through other groups of golfers. The I would rather talk and may not even get out of the clubhouse. The S routinely golfs on the same day at the same time, using the same clubs. The C keeps score and make sure that everybody plays by the rules. He probably cleans his clubs a lot.

Concerning spiritual commitment, the high D usually must have a traumatic event or crisis to help him recognize and acknowledge his need for a commitment to Christ. The high I finds it easy to express his/her faith verbally and to make a public commitment to Christ. He looks forward to sharing his faith and experience with others. The high S often makes a commitment quietly, but will be loyal in relationship and service. The high C experiences intense internal struggles about his relationship with God. He fears he is not doing everything right and that God is often displeased with him. He finds it difficult to separate performance from God's grace. (Ken R. Voges and Ron L. Braund, Understanding How Others Misunderstand You. Moody Press, 1990. The set of book and workbook can be purchased separately.)

The DiSC• model attempts to explain each behavioral style's strengths, optimal work environment, and limitations. It describes whom each one needs to complement limitations and what each can do to be more effective.

This style's emphasis is upon shaping his environment by overcoming opposition to accomplish results.

This person's tendencies include:

  • getting immediate results
  • causing action
  • accepting challenges
  • making quick decisions
  • questioning the status quo
  • taking authority
  • managing trouble
  • solving problems

This person desires an environment that includes:

  • power and authority
  • prestige and challenge
  • opportunity for individual accomplishments
  • wide scope of operations
  • direct answers
  • opportunity for advancement
  • freedom from controls and supervision
  • many new and varied activities
Action Plan

This person needs others who:

  • weigh pros and cons
  • calculate risks
  • use caution
  • structure a more predictable environment
  • research facts
  • deliberate before deciding
  • recognize the needs of others

To be more effective this person needs:

  • difficult assignments
  • to understand that they need people
  • techniques based on practical experiences
  • an occasional shock
  • identification with a group
  • to verbalize reasons for conclusions
  • an awareness of existing sanctions to pace self and to relax more


This style's emphasis is on shaping the environment by influencing or persuading others.

This person's tendencies include:

  • contacting people
  • making a favorable impression
  • verbalizing with articulates
  • creating a motivational environment
  • generating enthusiasm
  • entertaining people
  • viewing people and situations optimistically
  • participating in a group

This person desires an environment that includes:

  • popularity, social recognition
  • public recognition of ability
  • freedom of expression
  • group activities outside the job
  • democratic relationships
  • freedom from control and detail
  • opportunity to verbalize proposals
  • coaching counseling
  • favorable working conditions
Action Plan

This persons needs others who:

  • concentrate on the task
  • seek facts
  • speak directly
  • respect sincerity
  • develop systematic approaches
  • prefer dealing with things to dealing with people
  • take a logical approach
  • demonstrate individual follow-through

To be more effective this person needs:

  • control of time, if D or S is low in their blend
  • objectivity in decision-making
  • participatory management
  • more realistic appraisals of others
  • priorities and deadlines to be more firm with others, if D is low in the blend

This style's emphasis is upon working conscientiously within existing circumstances to ensure quality and accuracy.

This person's tendencies include:

  • attention to key directives and standards
  • concentrating on key details
  • thinking analytically, weighing pros and cons
  • being diplomatic with people
  • using subtle or indirect approaches to conflict
  • checking for accuracy
  • analyzing performance critically
  • using a systematic approach to situations or activities

This person desires an environment that includes:

  • clearly defined performance expectations
  • valuing quality and accuracy
  • reserved, business-like atmosphere
  • opportunity to display expertise
  • control over the factors that affect his performance
  • opportunity to ask "why" questions
  • recognition for specific skills and accomplishments
Action Plan

This person needs others who:

  • delegate important tasks
  • make quick decisions
  • use policies only as guidelines
  • compromise with the opposition
  • state unpopular positions
  • initiate and facilitate discussions
  • encourage teamwork

To be more effective this person needs:

  • opportunity for careful planning
  • exact job descriptions and performance objectives
  • scheduled performance appraisals
  • specific feedback on performance
  • to respect people's personal worth as much as their accom plishments to develop tolerance for conflict


This style's emphasis is on cooperating with others to carry out the task.

This person's tendencies include:

  • performing ina consistnet, predictable amnner
  • demonstrating patience
  • developing specialized skills desiring to help others
  • showing loyalty
  • being a good listener
  • calming excited people
  • creating a stable, harmonious work environment

This person desires an environment that includes:

  • maintenance of the status quo unless given reasons for change
  • predictable routines
  • credit for work accomplished
  • minimal work infringement on home life
  • sincere appreciation
  • identification with a group
  • standard operating procedures
  • minimal conflict
Action Plan

This person needs others who:

  • react quickly to unexpected change
  • stretch toward the challenges of accepted tasks
  • become involved in more than one thing
  • are self-promoting
  • apply pressure on others
  • work comfortably in an unpredictable environment
  • help prioritize work
  • are flexible in work procedures

To be more effective this person needs:

  • conditioning prior to change
  • validation of self-worth
  • information on how his effort contributes to the whole
  • work associates of similar competence and sincerity
  • guidelines for accomplishing the task encouragement of creativity

STEP 2: Understand Others' Needs

Each behavior style has its particular needs. A different approach is required to relate to, persuade, lead, and disagree with each one.

  • To relate to a D, be direct. Give him the bottom fine followed by essential details. Get to the point and challenge him.
  • To relate to an I, be enthusiastic. Be friendly and positive. Praise him and let him know he's important.
  • To relate to the S, be warm and relational. Be relaxed and low-key. Don't get pushy with the objectives. Allow him time to respond at his own pace.
  • To relate to the C, be logical and analytical . Give clear, accurate, detailed facts. Don't rush him in making a decision.
  • To persuade a D, answer his what questions. He needs to know what you are trying to do, the expected results, and the value or benefits of this idea.
  • To persuade an I, answer his who questions. He needs to know who has done it before and who is going to be involved.
  • To persuade an S, answer his why questions. He needs to know why you are trying to change things. Take time to think it through with him and assure him everything will be all right.
  • To persuade a C, answer his how questions. He needs to know how this can be done and done right. He needs to know the step-by-step plan and what he is expected to do.
  • To lead a D, tell him the goal and give him freedom to determine how to do it. Don't over control. Allow him to be in charge of something.
  • To lead an I, allow him to dream with you about plans, projects, and people. Give him recognition and allow him to have fun.
  • To lead an S, allow him to be part of the group. Because he values relationship, he wants to do things together in a peaceful environment.
  • To lead a C, work closely with him. Allow him time to do things right, and do your best to do things the best way.
  • To disagree with a D, find the goal you can agree on. Help him think of alternative methods to achieve that goal and allow him to test his ideas.
  • To disagree with an I, agree with vision and give him time. Because he gets excited about many things, he may resolve the issue and move on to another idea.
  • To disagree with an S, take time to assure him that relationship is not in jeopardy. He wants peace and needs to be convinced that disagreement won't threaten that.
  • To disagree with a C, give him facts and details. He won't be moved with emotional appeals and forcefulness.

STEP 3: Respect and Value Other Styles

We tend to view others in light of their weaknesses or limitations rather than their strengths, especially if their behavioral style differs from ours. We tend to view ourselves in terms of our strengths instead of our weaknesses.

The D often views himself as independent, controlled, efficient, and tenacious. He sees another D as domineering, pushy, harsh, insensitive, and tough; the I as manipulative, egotistical, overbearing, excitable, and talkative. To him, the S is slow, weak, awkward, dependent, and conforming; the C is picky, critical, indecisive, stuffy, and moralistic.

The I sees himself as personable, exciting, outgoing, stimulating, and dramatic. He views another I as manipulative, egotistical, overbearing, excitable, and talkative. He sees the D as domineering, pushy, harsh, insensitive, and tough; the S as slow, weak, awkward, dependent, and conforming. To him, the C is picky, critical, indecisive, stuffy, and moralistic.

The S often views himself as peacemaking, dependable, supportive, reliable, and willing. He views another S as slow, weak, awkward, and dependent. To him, the D is domineering, pushy, harsh, insensitive, and tough; the I is manipulative, egotistical, overbearing, excitable, and talkative. He sees the C as picky, critical, indecisive, stuffy, and moralistic.

The C often considers himself to be serious, organized, thorough, industrious, and persistent. He views another C as picky, critical, indecisive, stuffy, and moralistic. He views the D as domineering, pushy, harsh, insensitive and tough; the I as manipulative, egotistical, overbearing, excitable, and talkative. He sees the S as slow, weak, awkward, dependent, and conforming.

To respect and value another person's style, we must view him in terms of his strengths instead of his weaknesses. Second, we must recognize and promote those strengths. Third, we must complement his weaknesses with our strengths instead of being critical and negative.

STEP 4: Recognize Tension Areas

Wherever there are people there will be issues that create tension. Recognizing potential tension areas can help avoid unnecessary conflict. We create tension for others by things we do and don't do. When tension occurs we want others to change, but we don't want to change ourselves.

The D style can create tension for another D by trying to over control the situation and taking away his freedom to control his own situation. Tension with the I can come when the D's concern for results is not accompanied by concern for an enjoyable and motivational environment. Tension with the S is created by not taking enough time to listen and by placing more value on time and results than relationships. Tension with the C comes from lack of attention to details and the D's high risk orientation.

The I can create tension for a D with his lack of focus on results, by talking too much, and by being too emotional and dramatic. I's desire for recognition and visibility can reduce another l's visibility and recognition, creating tension. Tension with an S can occur when the I demonstrates a lack of depth in relationship and by his faster pace. Impulsiveness and not attending to details can cause tension with the C.

The S can create tension for a D by being indecisive and reluctant to change. Tension with the I comes from being slow-paced and lacking enthusiasm. Tension with another S can come from lack of initiative. Tension with the C can come from people-orientation rather than a logical, analytical approach to tasks.

The C can create tension for the D because of his slower, methodical pace and fear of taking risks. Tension with the I can come from his attention to detail and lack of spontaneity. Tension with the S can result from not sharing feelings with him. Tension with another C can come from trying to be more accurate than the other.

STEP 5: Adapt Your Style

Any effective team requires adaptability and versatility among its members. This doesn't mean we try to become something we are not. It simply means we learn to enhance our weaknesses so we don't create undue tension in the team. Adapting our style helps us to realize that we need each other and must work together to become productive, effective teams.

To increase effectiveness the high D can:

  • Listen more.
  • Focus more on people.
  • Become more flexible.
  • Become more supportive.
  • Be patient.
  • Be warmer and more open.
  • Be less controlling.
  • Explain why.

To increase effectiveness the high I can:

  • Slow down.
  • Control emotions.
  • Listen more.
  • Follow through.
  • Focus on details/facts.
  • Focus on results.
  • Be less impulsive.
  • Evaluate activities.

To increase effectiveness the high S can:

  • Become more decisive.
  • Initiate more.
  • Increase pace.
  • Learn to say no.
  • Be less sensitive.
  • Be more task focused.
  • Face confrontation.
  • Be more direct.

To increase effectiveness the high C can:

  • Be more optimistic.
  • Trust intuition.
  • Respond quicker.
  • Be more flexible.
  • Be more open.
  • Take more risks.
  • Be less fact-oriented.
  • Be less of a perfectionist.
  • Develop relationships.

True leaders build people----not programs. You can build people and develop a more effective team by taking these five steps today.

(Adapted from Sharpening People Skills Seminar; Walk Thru the Bible.)

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