Which Bird Are You? Taking Flight with the DISC Styles

Matching the DISC personality styles to eagles, parrots, doves, and owls is an easy and memorable way to help learners connect with what they represent and remember it.

Over the last 30 years, the training approach to teaching the four DISC personality styles for employee development hasn’t changed much—until now.

The Taking Flight! fable portrays how by linking a type of bird to each style, DISC can have a deeper and longer-lasting impact. The letters D, I, S, and C form an acronym in which the D style is symbolized by dominant, direct, and decisive eagles. Interactive, influencing, and inspirational I’s are represented by parrots. Supportive, steady, and sympathetic S’s are doves. And conscientious, concise, and correct C’s are owls.

Just looking at the letter D does not intuitively reveal behavioral traits such as bold, direct, and results-oriented. But thinking about an eagle immediately brings these traits to mind. Training participants can easily ascribe characteristics that capture the essence of each style to eagles, parrots, doves, and owls. Simply put, the birds are “sticky.” Participants instantly connect with what they represent and they remember it.

In addition, the birds add colorful energy to visual learners who are new training participants, while adding new life for old-time DISC trainers and participants.

Eagles (D’s)

Just like their raptor compatriots, office eagles aren’t shy creatures. They communicate directly, are geared toward quickly capturing goals (prey), and judge themselves by results achieved.

Office eagles often rise to positions of influence and authority in which their strategic leadership abilities enable them to visualize the business from 10,000 feet. Office eagles enjoy exploring and conquering new opportunities ahead of the competition. Like their avian counterparts, these eagles prefer to function independently with the freedom to overcome obstacles and progress toward goals.

When office eagles overuse their dominant style, they can come across as abrupt, overbearing, and unwilling to acknowledge defeat or admit to being wrong. They need to be conscious of how these aggressive tendencies affect other styles and diminish their ability to produce the results they crave.

Above all, office eagles value clarity of mission. This enables them to direct themselves toward achieving results in the quickest, most efficient manner, which then opens their energy to the next opportunity.

Parrots (I’s)

Just like their real-life counterparts, office parrots are easy to spot. They typically are bursting with vitality, the center of attention, or motivating the team with high energy and enthusiasm. Perhaps most of all, they want to have a good time and typically boost morale when times are tough.

Office parrots have highly developed interpersonal skills. The ability to read other people, combined with their verbal adeptness, make them highly persuasive. Just like the aviary parrot who can speak the language of any animal in the forest, office parrots seem to naturally and effortlessly adapt to the person or the situation. This enables them to easily build a large network of collaborative relationships within an organization.

Office parrots thrive in environments where they can bring new ideas to life. Their ability to brainstorm and vocalize their thoughts drives the creative engine that sparks innovation. Their talent to work on many projects at once gives office parrots the energy boost to get things done.

One of the biggest misconceptions about office parrots is that they are not as “hard working” as other styles. More casual, cheerful parrots just have a knack for making hard work look like something fun to do!

Doves (S’s)

Like their avian counterparts, office doves are even paced and prefer calm and predictable settings over fast-paced environments rife with upheaval and change. Their energy level is low key as they steadily work through their day with consistency and thoroughness.

Office doves have an innate drive to be helpful. They are quick to volunteer their time and efforts for the sake of others. Whether it’s taking on an assignment for an overwhelmed colleague or counseling a stressed co-worker with patience and empathy, doves can be counted on to pitch in and help. These qualities typically make them the employee or manager everyone gets along with.

Their quiet nature belies strength of conviction that enables office doves to overcome obstacles. Think of them as the strong, silent type.

Office doves are natural team players. They like to be a part of a group and will do anything to help the team succeed. For these team players, group success is more important than individual stardom. They seek to create harmony and collaboration wherever they go.

Owls (C’s)

If you are observant enough to spot owls in the wild, you’ll notice that they seem to be lost in thought…and office owls are no different. They are naturally inquisitive. While feathered owls ask, “Who?” the human owl’s questions of choice are “Why?” and “What if?” Their ability to consider all possible angles of a situation or the possible implications of a plan makes them invaluable when creating organizational strategy.

Office owls are natural planners and don’t just “wing it.” They like to follow a process and are quite systematic when working through an issue. Once they have established a framework or rules for accomplishing tasks, they consistently will adhere to accepted standards.

The detail orientation of office owls is unrivaled. They notice things others never pick up on. With their zest for details and analysis, they are energized by tasks that ensure high-quality results.

Office owls possess a natural gift for sorting out complex problems and communicate in a reserved, careful, and analytical way. Like the forest-dwelling owl, office owls work behind the scenes. They have no need for the public recognition craved by office parrots. In fact, such a spotlight would most likely be uncomfortable for an owl, just like in the wild.

Taking Flight with DISC

For trainers committed to long-term application of insights gained in their training programs, matching the DISC styles to eagles, parrots, doves, and owls is an easy and memorable way to keep the DISC styles alive.

Merrick Rosenberg is CEO of Take Flight Learning and coauthor of “Taking Flight! Master the DISC Styles to Transform Your Career, Your Relationship…Your Life.” Take Flight Learning offers DISC training programs, certification, and distributor opportunities for consultants. For more information, visit www.TakeFlightLearning.com or call 856.807.0200.