Behave Yourself!

This simple, but profound behavioural shift has the power to transform individual and team performance.

ARE you a Dove, an Eagle, an Owl, or a Parrot?

By that I mean, what are your character traits? Specifically in the workplace.

Try this. If you were walking into a meeting and the boss said “I need to see you in my office immediately after this”, would you be more likely to think:

1. “Yes, it must be a promotion. Great news!”

2. “I bet they want to do an article about me and put my picture in the newsletter. I’m glad I’m wearing this new suit today”.

3. “Damn it, someone must have screwed up and I’ll have to stay after work to fix it”.

4. Immediately start to investigate every recent project to find out what could possibly have gone wrong so that you can prepare a justification.

Is one of those more or less like you?

In this order, the above reactions are more likely of a dominant person, an influencer, a conscientious teammate, or the steady worker in the team.

Inevitably, people won’t be 100 per cent one or the other, but identifying your strongest behavioural characteristics can help you make a massive change — for yourself and the people you work with.

Most people have done some kind of personality or skills test at some point, especially if you’re in corporate. The “Birds” above are more commonly associated with DISC — Dominant, Influencer, Steady, or Conscientious.

But assigning people to birds is a great way to talk to teams about their behavioural traits in a fun, non-confrontational way that really gets their attention.

There is research out there that proves that talent has nothing to do with success. It’s about what you do, deliberately, and often. And the first step is to be aware of your behaviours. Are you a doer or a thinker? A talker or a writer? Detail or big picture? Loud or quiet? People or process?

So let’s look at the four birds, and see if you can spot yourself:


Eagles are the more dominant behavioural types. They are typically direct and assertive and are motivated by achievement, results, and a degree of control. When put under stress they can become highly assertive, visibly agitated, and take on an aggressive tone. They’ll need immediate responses, so have your responses ready!


The Parrots are the most outgoing and talkative of the group. They are motivated by positive communication, feedback, and teamwork. But watch out when they’re put under pressure because they’ll tell you all about it and verbalise everything.

Under extreme stress they’re most likely to adopt a verbal attacking style, looking for ways to blame external factors for any issues. Make sure you go in here with a solutions focus and are ready to talk any issues through.


Doves are easygoing and amiable. The way to get them motivated is to give them the time to focus and digest the task or project at hand.

The mediator in the group, they will always try and see both sides and reach a solution. However, under stress they can spend a lot of energy trying to hide it, or become passive aggressive in their attempts to avoid conflict. Keep an eye out for this behaviour as an indicator of stress and discuss any issues with a “best outcome for all” approach.


The Owls are precise and analytical. They are motivated by, and interested in, fact and detail. Like the Doves they will try to avoid conflict, but they approach this by becoming avoidant and giving vague promises, becoming disagreeable and hyper-analytical when put under pressure.

Again, watch out for this behaviour, don’t take offence and agree on promised deadlines.


Obviously these are the extremes, but people can usually identify more with one than the others.

Are you an Eagle, a Parrot, a Dove, or an Owl?

And how does that make you feel? Proud, interested, shocked, amused?

Can you spot your teammates in here too?

Skills can be taught and learnt, but your behavioural type is much harder to learn or fake — and why would you want to? On most teams there is a need for all these characters to achieve the best results.

And it’s really important to remember that Eagles are not more important or more senior than Doves, or vice versa. Interns can be Eagles, CEO’s can be Owls — it’s not about position, it’s about how you behave and react to situations.

Obviously this quick self-test method isn’t definitive, but it can help you start the journey to more self-awareness and better relationships and results at work.

Let people know your preferences, especially as a manager — imagine how much time it would save in meetings, emails and communication frustration if you told people what worked and what didn’t work with you, and found out the same about them.