Personal professional development should be very important to those in the accounting field who wish to grow, advance their career, and find satisfaction and success. Currently, as one of my many professional development initiatives, I am enrolled in a local college leadership certificate program, to better understand myself and others. The program offers a series of workshops, covering several topics including: self awareness and credibility, business writing and financial basics, public speaking, and managing conflict.

Before my first class we were asked to fill out a DiSC assessment, a group of psychological inventories used by many companies, HR professionals, organizations, consultants, and even coaches and trainers. Many of your potential employers may have asked you to fill out something like this during the interview process, to better understand how you may (or may not!) fit in to their corporate culture or support the team they wish to build.

In my first class we identified which of the four major "behavior styles" we could be identified as and what specific characteristics common to that particular style we may exhibit in our work lives. We then broke off into groups and answered a series of questions as a unit, to identify the different ways we see the word, solve problems, and communicate with others…both positively and negatively.

It was really interesting to observe the differences among the groups. My group, the “i’s” (influencers, quick-paced, gregarious, stimulating, spontaneous, involvement-oriented, enthusiastic, and with dramatic opinions, actions and ideas), and the “C’s” (cautiously paced, seeking facts and data, time-disciplined, precise, structured and organized, and who like problem-solving activities and rules) approached problems and executed solutions quite differently. Even the way we wished to communicate differed.

These two groups in particular, and how they go about their work and the way they communicate with others, reminded me of some of the challenges I have faced within the accounting field. As an “I,” it has always been easy for me to speak in front of others, carry myself with confidence, and communicate in different ways to achieve goals.


Analyzing and experiencing the different work behavior styles and characteristics of the other groups made me realize how (pardon the pun here) taxing it might be for someone more introverted to have a hand in business development or sales functions, interact with others at a networking event, or speak at a seminar or special event. However, what this class also taught me is that assessments like DiSC are a way to zero in on what you can improve, or how you can develop or modify your approach when dealing with others to achieve a common goal.

Taking it back to fashion, I asked my fellow class participants if they believed that a behavior style could be tied to image and the way one presents themself at work. Would an “i” be more predisposed to wear trendy, flashy or fashionable attire than a “C?” Are “D’s” (fast paced, impatient, decisive, dominant, goal-oriented, seeking control, cool and competitive) more conservative dressers than “S’s” (slow-paced, warm and friendly, great listeners, enjoy asking questions, risk-avoiders, relationship-oriented)?

I’ll be doing some research to see what I can find, but in the meantime, what are your thoughts on the subject? Have you taken an assessment inventory like DiSC, and do you find your behavior styles relate to the way you dress at work and how you present yourself?

Remember, credibility is the quality of being trusted and believed, and oftentimes it can be built by projecting the right image. Keep in mind that physical attractiveness can be very persuasive and impression can be critical to the next steps in one’s career. Although there are many gender differences when it comes to attire in the workplace, building the right style for yourself and your unique situation can ultimately help with your professional development and career goals.

Have experience with an assessment like DiSC?  See a relation to your or others’ behavior styles and fashion sense? Comment here or share your thoughts on Accounting Today’s Facebook page!

Emily Burns Perryman is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-Marketing Communications Specialist for Freed Maxick CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and was named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickCPAs or email her at