Are You a Don Draper or an Oprah Winfrey?

Jan 5th, 2015 |

I talk a lot about the DiSC Behavioral Profile. It is an excellent tool for building self-awareness and increasing personal effectiveness. The tool itself is simple. Your responses to a series of questions reveal your unique behavioral style: your tendencies, needs, preferred environment, etc. Armed with this knowledge, you can begin to adjust your behavior to improve your interactions with others and increase your satisfaction, both personally and professionally.

You can also utilize DiSC to help you identify and understand the behavioral profiles of your employees (co-worker, boss, clients, spouse). After all, every interaction involves at least two people and potentially two different behavioral styles. Imagine how much more effective your communication will be if you know what makes the other person tick. Plus, it can be a fun party trick!

Four Categories of DiSC

The four categories of DiSC are: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. I find it’s easiest to remember the differences between the styles by assigning each category to a character who fits the profile.

“D” Behavioral Profile

For example, when I think of a classic “D”, I picture Jon Hamm’s character, Don Draper, on Mad Men. A “D” is confident, decisive, direct and aggressive. He or she can also be egocentric and demanding.

“I” Behavioral Profile

An “I” can be equally persuasive, but the approach tends to be kinder and gentler. Other adjectives used to describe a classic “I” include: enthusiastic, emotional, poised, sociable, generous and observing.

Oprah Winfrey is a good example of an “Influencer.” At the height of her talk show days, she had mastered her behaviors and could charm interviews out of some of the most notoriously “private” public figures.

“S” Behavioral Profile

The “S” personality is someone who tends to avoid aggressive situations or conflict. This type of person is amiable, consistent, deliberate, cooperative, patient and loyal.

Former First Lady Laura Bush is a good example of a classic “S”.

“C” Behavioral Profile

There are two beloved television characters who epitomize the “C” behavioral profile: Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and Spock from Star Trek.

A “C” adheres to rules and standards, concentrates on details, thinks analytically, and is generally diplomatic.


Of course, recognizing a person’s behavioral profile is one thing—and most people demonstrate a combination of all four profiles—knowing what to say and how to act to optimize your interaction with the different profiles is a completely different challenge. I’ll save that conversation for another day. In the meantime, why not practice recognizing the different profile characteristics in the people you meet or spend time with regularly. I don’t recommend pointing out the specific traits or worse, telling your boss he’s a “classic Don Draper.” Consider this an internal, mental exercise to start the New Year.