The Personality of Emergency Management

Are leaders made or born? An age-old question that is sure to provoke debate for years to come. Great leaders are generally those who are regarded as having made not only the right call but also the tough decisions when a situation was at its most critical. Does that then dictate that a certain type of personality will always prove most useful for adverse situations? Not necessarily.

The popular DISC personality and behavioural model mostly applied to business management to enable managers to recognise, not only their own behavioural style, but also that of their staff and leads to enhancement in their ability to communicate effectively. Using this model and matching a person’s strengths to the type of emergency a Company may be presented with will improve the chance of the leader dealing swiftly and successfully with the situation.

DISC is a quadrant behavioural model based on the work of Dr. William Moulton Marston (1893-1947) to examine the behaviour of individuals in their milieu or within a specific situation. It generally classifies behaviour into four distinct categories when the subject is behaving naturally.

The quadrants are Dominance; Influence; Steadiness and Compliance.

We can all assume the persona of a dominant person or submissive person if we actively choose to do so and all people will have elements of all four behavioural traits. The DISC model is premised upon a quadrant, and sometimes two quadrants, being your most prominent behavioural tendency when you are not actively thinking about how you are behaving.

Which behavioural style is the making of a good leader when the chips are down?

Dominance: People who rate highly for “D” are very dynamic in dealing with problems and challenges. High “D” people are best described as demanding, forceful, strong-willed, determined, aggressive, and sometimes even uncaring. High “D” personalities are suited to fast paced, quick decision type emergency situations and usually thrive in roles such as Fire Officers or Military Commanders who must take instant charge of a situation possibly with only a moment or even seconds warning, generate a plan and issue directives.

Influence:People who rate highly for “I” generally influence others through talking and persuasion and tend to be emotional. They are described as convincing, magnetic, friendly, gregarious, persuasive, trusting, and optimistic. High “I” personalities are suited to crisis management situations where time is available for discussion and the generation of ideas. Hi “I’s” will often be the generators of innovative solutions to problems and will garner support from others to galvanise the idea to action.

Steadiness:People who rate highly for “S” will perform their role a steady pace. They are methodical, and do not like sudden change. They can be described as calm, relaxed, patient, unfazed, predictable, stable, and tend to be unemotional or poker-faced. High “S” personalities are suited to emergencies that may involve situations such as Information Technology disruptions. They remain calm and focussed whilst analysing the problem and developing the solution. Whilst an IT disruption may require resurrection in the fastest possible timeframe to regain operational continuity, high “S” consistency and resolute focus on the steps to success will prove effective in these types of scenarios.

Compliance:People who rate highly for “C” generally adhere to systems, processes, and structure. They like to produce quality results and do it right the first time. High “C” personalities are careful, exacting, neat, systematic, diplomatic, accurate, cautious and tactful. High “C” personalities are ideal for emergency situations involving business continuity. High “C’s” will relish the opportunity to implement the Company’s business continuity plans in the event of an emergency. However, there will have to be an existing plan for a high “C” to implement. High “C’s” will excel at procedures and implementation phases that are ready to be checked off as each phase reaches conclusion.

Matching behavioural traits to the rigours of the type of critical situation occurring is vital to maximizing a successful outcome. As always, ‘prior planning prevents pretty poor performance’, and identifying key personnel to turn to in the event of an emergency should be part of every businesses strategy.