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Communication: Key to Authentic Leadership

Communication: Key to Authentic Leadership

Today in Leadership Voices, Dr. Donnelly chats with Kathy Marcino, who owns and operates KMM Disc Consulting. She specializes in sales coaching and human behavior, using the DISC model, to help improve communication, enhance productivity, and increase sales effectiveness. We’re so thrilled to share Kathy’s wisdom and enthusiasm with you!


Kristen: Kathy, thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us how you got to be a DISC expert?

Kathy: I began my career in the pharma industry. As a leader in sales and sales management, we participated in MANY training programs. DISC was the tool that resonated with me the most, and the one I utilized within my own team. Not only for hiring and training, but for identifying our clients’ decision and buying styles. It was a real game changer. When I left corporate, I wanted to specialize in an area where I was successful – understanding people’s behavioral styles.

Kristen: Amazing. Would you mind unpacking DISC a little bit for me about why you say it’s so essential?

Kathy: It’s essential because it identifies your core characteristics, those core tendencies, – essentially what makes YOU tick. For example, you’re in a leadership role charged with building or adding to an existing team. You want to make sure that they fit with the culture and the other team members. You’re going to look for certain characteristics – what motivates them? What is their communication style? How do they handle a changing environment?

Kristen: Right.

Kathy: It also provides that all-important self-awareness piece. Those “a ha” moments, that we’re usually too busy to recognize.

Kristen: Exactly, so it’s self-awareness then for you a key important part of leadership?


Kathy: Oh yes! Everyone can be a leader, but I think there are those natural born leaders, those who demonstrate characteristics of leadership a little more naturally than others. But along with identifying strengths of leadership, I believe you must know your blind spots too. Those areas that, you just might not be aware of, because you don’t, they don’t come as naturally to you. They’re the ones that take you out of your comfort zone and make you more successful.

You want your team to understand your vision and direction. If the team doesn’t understand you, or they’re confused, it’s your fault. I think a lot of leaders will say, ‘Well they just don’t understand me, so I’m not even going to bother.’ And I think the most self-aware leaders, think, ‘Wait a minute, maybe I’m doing something wrong. I’ve got six people here that are not understanding me, so let me take a minute and figure this out. Maybe I’m not communicating in a way that resonates with them.’

This is key. Everyone “hears” differently based on their personality. For example, with some employees, you’re going to have to provide more direction and more detail. Some can take a sticky note and run with it, but others may need a written email with a lot of detail. At the end of the day, they’ll all going to get to the same result, but in different ways. As a leader you need to know your own style, as well as, those that you’re leading.

Kristen: Yeah, absolutely. I heard somebody refer to it the other day as during the day sometimes we’re let out on a parole from our personalities, but at night we always go back to our own cells. Which I think is a very visceral way to describe what you just said.

Kathy: I haven’t heard that, but I love it! It’s nature vs nurture. ‘This is who I am – you may not see this person at work all the time, you may see pieces of it, depending on what’s happening but this is who I am.’

Kristen: Aye, absolutely. Clearly, I’m sure you work with a lot of DISC resources but are there any non-DISC books or TED talks or podcasts that you recommend to folks for leadership coaching?

Kathy: There’s so many! I don’t if I could say who my favorite is, but since I’m in the sales & personal development arena, I’d say Ted McGrath, Tony Robbins, Lewis Howes & John Lee Dumas.

Kristen: Thank you so much! Is there any parting wisdom you’d like to leave with us?

Kathy: The DISC model is just a tool that helps you discover and build awareness. It’s what you DO with this knowledge that’s so powerful. For leaders, having emotional intelligence is what builds the connection and the trust that ultimately creates a successful organization.

Such rich information! Thanks to Kathy for chatting with us. If you want to participate in a LV interview, please head here to schedule one.



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