What’s Your Tempo?
Last night I pondered the tempo of my life and how I resist slowing down to Andante (a walking pace) or an Adagio (slow). I moved through most of my life at an Allegro tempo (lively, cheerful), and I accelerated to Presto (very fast) when I worked on Wall Street, consulted for Price Waterhouse, and later worked as a Fortune 100 company executive. In reflection, I wonder if my true inner tempo is really that fast, or did I drive myself to move at faster tempos because I wanted to excel and achieve at very high levels, as well as fit into the organizational culture.
Personality assessments, such as DiSC® or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, provide some useful information with regard to the inner tempo of an individual.
Not only can these assessments help us understand ourselves, they can help us understand our colleagues’ tempos. The origin of the word tempo is from the Latin word, tempus. The origin of the word temperament, is from the Latin word, temperamentum, from temperare to mix, or temper. Hmmm, question for my linguist friends, are they related?
In the DiSC model, the “D” personality is driving, dominating, and fast-paced. They prefer a big picture orientation and are results-oriented. The “D” personality’s tempo is Allegro, Vivace, or Presto. The “I” or “influencer” personality is outgoing and talkative. They think out loud and are full of ideas. Their tempo is also Allegro, Vivace, or Presto, but not as driven. The “S” personality prefers stability, collaboration, and thoughtful structure. Their preferred tempo is usually Allegretto or Andante. The “C” personality likes to dig into the details. A “C” person hates surprises and loves analysis. Their preferred pace is Adagio. In reality, though some people will sit solidly in one of these four types, most people will have a mix of two or more types in their profile.
Imagine a team that has people representing all four of these types.
How do you lead them through times that require quick decisions? How do you help them to slow down and take time to assess the facts, or to allow a process to unfold? Are you able to adjust your tempo to adapt to these different conditions?
My DiSC profile shows that I’m right on the line between “I” and “S.” Over the years, I developed behaviors in the “D” and “C” areas in order to adapt to the culture, context, and requirements of my work. Something for you to consider as you approach your career, your personal leadership development, and in leading your team.
Here’s how my colleagues see my behaviors in relation to the “DiSC 363” model. You can see how I have learned to demonstrate behaviors in the D and C areas:
The author’s 360 degree assessment from her colleagues.
It’s important to develop behaviors in all of these areas in order to be a successful leader. One can be commanding, resolute, and pioneering in a positive, affirming and inclusive way. You do not need to be a dictator!
Based on the tempo discussion above, my natural tendencies are more of an Allegretto or Poco piu andante. Perhaps these two tempos will suit me better as I move into a new phase of my life that requires contemplation and synthesis as a writer, rather than the qualities of leadership often needed in a corporate environment.