INDIANAPOLIS, Ind—We all have people in our lives whose personalities are just…different. Perhaps it’s a boss with a very dominant personality or a colleague who can’t ever seem to make a decision. Knowing how to handle different types of behavior styles to effectively tailor your image to fit your personality can help reduce misunderstandings.
“Successful people are self aware,” explained Amanda Conklin with NCAA Academic Membership Affairs. “They understand themselves and they understand how their behavior affects others. They know how to maximize what they do well how to adapt their behavior.”
Adapting professional behavior is the message behind the latest personal branding event hosted by the Women’s MBA Alumni Advisory Board at the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis. Titled “Your Image Inside, Out,” the workshop featured two image presentations: a DiSC behavior assessment sponsored and administered by representatives from the NCAA, as well as a styling lesson from certified image consultant and founder of ImageCube Personal Brand Consultants Sola Adelowo. More than 50 Kelley women, who are alumnae and current students, attended the workshop.
How you see yourself
Attendees received a DiSC behavior assessment, which they completed online prior to the event. A profile was created using each woman’s answers about word choices that best describe her. That profile assigned each woman into four behavior dimensions: Dominance, Influential, Steadiness and Conscientious. A woman who scores high in Dominance (D), for example, is likely a decisive and direct person who gets things done. Influential (I) is typically a social go-getter who influences others. Steadiness (S) describes a loyal team player who avoids conflict and Conscientious (C) is a detail-oriented skeptic who works in a timely fashion.
The women were separated into each group and asked to come up with strengths, weaknesses, contributions and misconceptions about each behavior dimension.
“As ‘D’s, we show strength and strong leadership, and we can be very persuasive,” said attendee Jennifer Nilsson, giving her group’s answers to the crowd. “But we also can be impatient, aggressive and stubborn. We feel we have a strong strategy.”
In a grocery store, for example, “D”s are the impulse shoppers and “I”s know where everything is located. “S”s brings an efficient list, while “C”s will bring the coupons and calculator.
“An ‘S’ seeks harmony, ‘I’s camaraderie and ‘C’s have a hard time saying no,” explained Jaime Fluker, of NCAA Student-Athlete Affairs. “When overused, strengths can be come weaknesses.”
Knowing how each behavior style operates can help mitigate personality clashes.
“DiSC actually applies in the classroom,” said Kelley Evening MBA student Ginger Connin. “You have to leave your personality comfort zone to succeed in class projects. It helps you reframe your view on how things should be.”
How others see you
Sometimes downplaying an overwhelming trait with clothing can balance first impressions and professional relationships. In her presentation, Adelowo used DiSC personality traits to describe how to dress for each style. First she distributed photos of each attendee and asked strangers to write descriptive words on the back of each photo. Sometimes how we feel on the inside isn’t projected by what we wear.
“Your credibility matters,” Adelowo told the crowd. “You’ve invested thousands of dollars in your education. People will judge your education and your knowledge based on what they see.”
Adelowo used herself as an example.
“I’m a high D. I always come across as commanding, very direct and to the point,” she explained. “I’m always going to exude that authority, but there are times I need to be more approachable. That’s where fashion can help, with softer angles in my collar lines, with brighter colors and textured shirts under blazers.”
Women who are soft-spoken can wear bold colors and jackets to show they can take charge. Easy-going free thinkers can add more structured pieces. Shorter women may be perceived as not having command: Adelowo suggested wearing a jacket.
“I’m a wedding singer and typically I wear a black dress so I’m seen as professional and reliable; I received that in the photo feedback,” said Kelley Evening MBA alumna Jennifer Jannik. “In order to expand my business into more exotic wedding locations, I should know my audience and be a little more bold with brighter accessories or flowers in my hair.”
Fashion can sometimes be seen as a superficial afterthought. Adelowo explained that savvy businesswomen need to understand its value.
“Don’t look at fashion as some trivial thing to be ignored,” she said. “Fashion is your tool to express who you are before you speak.”
Attendees were able to question Adelowo about how to best tailor their look to match their professional goals.
“I thought the workshop was excellent. It affirmed some things I thought about myself but also helped me see how others might perceive me,” said Karen Stuerenberg, a Women’s MBA Alumni Advisory Board member and director of marketing for Top Value Fabrics. “It gives insight on how to determine what drives other people so you can better communicate and relate.”
The event was the second in the Women’s MBA Alumni Advisory Board personal branding series. The next workshop will be held the fall 2012.