We’ve already covered the Directive/Driver and other styles, so now let’s move on to address the Supportive personality style.
I once led a management training for a statewide family welfare and crisis phone center. The team completed the DISC profile and then we debriefed and discussed how their results shaped the organization’s culture. There were about 30 managers present. Of that group, only one had a high “S” or supportive personality style.
As we discussed strategies for getting along with one another, I asked our “S” person, “Since you are outnumbered here with everyone else having a very different style, how are you holding up?”
She blushed, smiled and said, “Oh, I’m holding my own.”
Then someone in the back of the room shouted out, “Yeah, but “S” people don’t last here very long. We make sure of it!”
Yikes! Maybe that’s why their Director called me in to conduct the training. Too much of one personality style can undermine traits that benefit the organization. There is value in building teams comprised of a variety of styles. We need more diversity of thought than group-think as well as people who are willing to adapt their approach.
Supportive Personality Style Benefits
- The supportive personality style can be an asset to any organization. They are characterized as stable, deliberate, patient and good team players. They are the labradors of the animal world — loyal, reliable and amiable.
- They can also be seen as even-tempered, cooperative and non-demonstrative. Their mindset is, “Can’t we all just get along?” Because they are relationship oriented, they may address others’ feelings first before attending to the task. When “S” individuals have an “I” secondary style, they are hyper-focused on relationships.
- Supportive folks don’t like conflict, so they may adopt a role as negotiator instead of seeing people at odds with one another. They may also leave the organization rather than cope with a hostile work environment. And they won’t tell you why they are leaving; they fear the negative reaction that might occur if they shared their reasoning.
- Change is not always welcome in the high “S” world. So if you plan a new process or policy, be sure to explain the “why.” Review the reasons behind the change, then ask for their input rather than springing something on them at the last minute.
- These “S” personality styles can have perfectionist traits. They may be very hard on themselves and can take criticism personally. However, others may become frustrated with their need to include all members of the team in the decision making process. Their desire to get input from everyone can slow down the fast-track results that dominant and influencer personalities thrive on.
Best Occupations and Celebrity Styles
People with strong supportive traits can be found in a wide variety of helper occupations: nurses, teachers, customer service agents, social workers, etc. Every organization would do well to include them in their workforce, since they bring people together and believe in constructive interpersonal behaviors. They are also joiners, and get great satisfaction from participating in service and professional groups
Our high “S” teammates are in good company. Based on unscientific observation reported at Celebrity Styles , a few household names who have the supportive style include Fred Rogers, Barbara Bush, Jimmy Stewart, John Denver, Michael J. Fox, Diana former Princess of Wales, Martin Luther King, Jr., Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Ethel in I Love Lucy, Frodo in Lord of the Rings and Marge on The Simpsons.
I have the “S” trait as a secondary style and can prove it. Here’s me, many years ago, doing my best Marge Simpson imitation!