Six job candidates sitting in a row
Knowing yourself leads to better hiring decisions

Several years ago, I was sitting in a conference room at a management off-site meeting surrounded by my colleagues and senior leadership. We were waiting for the results of our individual and team’s DiSC management assessment from the facilitator.

For myself, this assessment was timely, as our vice president of human resources had recently laid out a growth goal for me by stating, “Michelle, we know you are a great lawyer that gets great results, but we need to see if you can build and run a team of great lawyers who achieve great results.”

When he said this, my immediate thought was, “If I am good, then I should hire people who act just like me, right?” As such, I was excited to get my DiSC profile results and see the qualities I needed to search for in the candidates I would be hiring.


The facilitator opened the discussion by stating that, as a management team, we had more than 60% of our team identify as a D. The D category, or Dominance, is characterized by quick decisions, direct answers and a competitive atmosphere. The I category, or Influence, is characterized by an energetic, collaborative and optimistic atmosphere. The S, or Steadiness, category is characterized by stability, collaboration and supportiveness. Finally, the C, or Conscientiousness, is characterized by a focus on quality, accuracy and order.

He informed us that on average, most management teams were approximately 25% Ds. In fact, we had only one S on our team and no one identified as a C. As these facts sunk in, several people raised a hand to question whether this finding was good or bad.

The facilitator began his analysis by advising that having so many D personalities in our group wasn’t a good or bad thing. It was simply about understanding how we work and our decision-making process. With a strong D culture, we needed to understand the advantages and drawbacks of this kind of team dynamic and be mindful of both.

This made sense to me. We were a fast-paced team that valued results, but didn’t like to sweat some of the small details and could drown out colleagues who questioned or disagreed with decisions. Not that there were many disagreements, because we were all Ds.

Indeed, the facilitator said we likely violently agreed with each other. But then he made an observation that would impact my professional life for years to come. He said it was clear that our team was prone to “like hiring like.” What he meant by this turn of phrase was that we were hiring and promoting people with similar attributes to our own. As a group, we were rewarding directness, decisiveness and results. But what drawbacks to the group culture were we also enhancing? Drawbacks included burnout, power struggles and accepting too many risks.

With that observation, I dug into my assessment and confirmed what I already suspected. I was a D. My detailed report noted that “driven” was the best word to describe me. Check. Sitting still was agonizing for me. True. It stated I speak up in meetings and question policies and protocols if I feel they don’t make sense. Again, true. It also said I likely place a high emphasis on achieving results and that I like to be in charge. Check and check. I shared my results with my colleagues seated near me — also Ds — and we bemused that these attributes are what made us successful and got us seats at this table, right? Note: For a great read on this premise, I recommend reading Marshall Goldsmith’s bestseller “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”

My assessment then identified the drawbacks of the D attributes. For example, it said I tend to get bored easily if there is too much discussion or conversations last too long. True. When I am irritated, it is difficult for me to hide my annoyance. Guilty as charged. It stated I likely tend to disregard opinions that conflict with my ideas and my aggressive approach could be stressful for people in the group. Ouch. That stung a bit. Finally, it highlighted that I have little patience for people’s hesitancy or other obstacles that stand in the way of immediate progress. Yes, I was a strong D.

What did this mean for my budding, new in-house legal team? Should I hire me or not hire me? As in-house lawyers, we are asked to assess risk on a daily basis and provide sound legal advice. Whether we are reviewing and negotiating contracts, implementing a new policy or evaluating our liability after an incident, we strive to get the best answer and result for the business.

Previously, when I interviewed lawyers, I always gravitated toward litigators, even if the position didn’t require a litigator. Since I was a litigator, I valued the litigators’ qualities of being able to think quickly on their feet, the hardworking and relentless approach to their work, their innate ability to persuade and negotiate and even their sometimes over-the-top confidence and argumentative nature. The facilitator’s sentiment was true — like hires like.

After taking the DiSC assessment, I set out to build a balanced team. Mindful of my bias toward D personality traits and litigators, I questioned what qualities were missing or needed on our team.

Did we have blind spots or gaps? Is there someone that champions questioning the status quo? Is there someone who likes to take their time and think before answering questions?

After seeing the benefits of having different personality types, we quickly learned that there is tremendous value in adding people to the team who come with different experiences. This is the interplay with diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). When people hear about DE&I, they often think of creating opportunities for people of different backbrounds, race and gender. Yes, that’s a part of it. But there is so much more.

We have seen on our team that diversity and inclusion includes differences in socio-economic groups, past experiences, education, hobbies, ethnicity, geography, age and seniority, just to name a few.

The team continues to grow and evolve, and we are developing our culture and how we interact as a group. The team uses words like “self-awareness” and “authenticity.” COVID-19 changed the business environment and how teams interact. I have come a long way from that conference room many years ago.

My advice to a leader challenged with building a team is to first know your personality profile. Whether you take the DiSC or another profile assessment, knowing your motivations and stressors and then hiring people to complement or challenge those characteristics will quickly enable you to create an inclusive workplace culture.

Now, when I see myself in a candidate, I don’t immediately think they would not be a good fit because of similar work-style traits. I look at all aspects of how they will enhance the team’s overall capability by filling any gaps we may have.

Michelle Bimson Maggi earned her JD in 2003 at Widener University School of Law. She worked as an associate in two national law firms before accepting a position at UGI Corporation, where she provided legal support on regulatory and litigation matters to UGI Utilities and general legal advice and litigation support to AmeriGas. Bimson Maggi ultimately moved to AmeriGas, where she was eventually promoted to Vice President — Law in 2019. Bimson Maggi is one of the founding members of AmeriGas’ Women’s Impact Network. She is also an officer and member of the executive committee of the National Propane Gas Association.


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