DISC Management Styles: Which Kind of Manager Are You?

Every individual is drastically different from each other. Some people’s lives are full of adventures, while some others prefer nothing but stability. Others can spend hours digging into every single detail of their work, but some can’t even get close to checking once.

How should you, with your inherent personalities, explore yourself? How can you, as a leader, take advantage of your strengths and work on your shortcomings?

DISC behavior assessment is a great way to find answers to these questions. You can easily find yours by doing an online DISC personality test, and know all about your DISC leadership styles in this blog.

What is DISC?

The DISC behavior assessment is a tool developed by Walter Vernon Clarke based on the DISC theory by Dr. William Moulton Marston. After 40 years of research, the DISC behavior assessment has become an effective tool for managers in the workplace thanks to its simplicity and practicality.

The DISC behavior assessment groups our personalities into four groups – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientious – based on their reactions to different stimuli. Each DISC personality has distinguished characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is a combination of two or more DISC personalities.

Your inherent personalities have an immense impact on everything you do, the way you behave, the way you interact with the surrounding. The DISC test was created for you to understand and develop yourself.

As a manager, knowing DISC and how to apply it helps profoundly in recruitment and cooperation with your employees. Just like how the DISC assessment explains and predicts your behaviors, your DISC personality suggests the kind of management style you are likely to take.

4 management styles based on DISC personality test

Dominance (D)

Characteristics: direct, aggressive, assertive, demanding, self-confident, ambitious and unyielding

Strengths: self-motivated, effective, result-driven

Needs to work on: patience, cooperation with employees, failure acceptance

Do you remember Steve Job, one of the most brilliant individuals who transformed the tech industry and established the most valuable company in the whole world?

Steve Job, as well as many other successful leaders, are D-type.

D-type people are doers. They possess in themselves admirable self-confidence, purposes and the motivation that they need to achieve their goals. D leaders always strive for the best results. They always give their best efforts.

Therefore, D-type leaders demand the same from their colleagues and employees.

D-type managers are naturally prone to taking on authoritative and paternalistic management style. They ensure clarity and effectiveness in their instructions, and expect employees to follow without any uncertainty or resistance. They tend to make all of the decisions and assume most of the powers in a team or an organization. Their great passion and motivation for work keep the team moving forward and always driven to the best possible results.

If you are a D-type manager, you need to work on your patience with others and allow more liberation for your employees. Extreme authoritarians at work are likely to raise employee dissatisfaction and resentment, which leads to lower employee engagement and higher turnover.

Try to ask for your employees’ opinions and take them into serious consideration. You may be surprised at the wealth of knowledge your employees bring to the table and the value they could add to your team.

Also, remember that mistakes happen and it is okay to make mistakes sometimes. It is important to look on the bright side and keep moving forward.

DISC leadership style

Influence (I)

Characteristics: charismatic, optimistic, impulsive, trusting

Strengths: people-oriented, persuasive, energetic

Needs to work on: details, organization, fears of losing friendship/relationship

A famous example of I-type leaders is Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States and also the youngest president to be sworn into office. President Obama is known for his transformational leadershipand amazingly inspirational speeches.

I-type people possess great charms, and thus are the center of attention wherever they go. They place emphasis on building relationships and take other people’s feelings into great care.

I-type managers create cohesive teams with their influence. They value openness and relationships between employees and themselves, so they keep the work environment energetic and interactive. Employees enjoy their charisma, energy, and inspiration.

I-type managers can be lacking in details and organization, though. If you are an I-type manager, you can take up note-taking, schedule, plan, etc, anything to keep you more organized and consistent at work. Being inattentive to the team’s progress can be demotivating to your employees, for which charisma won’t compensate.

So much as you like to take your hands off and give the lead to your employees, laissez-faire management style means certain risks to the team’s performance. Transformational management style is a great way for you to lead with your natural charm and ensure the team is always on the right track.

There are times that you also have to balance your fear of losing a relationship and speaking candidly to others when it is necessary. Rather than ignoring the problem, finding a way to speak up without sabotaging a relationship is what you should focus on.

DISC leadership style

Steadiness (S)

Characteristics: reliable, loyal, empathetic, humble, calm, patient, consistent

Strengths: good listener, self-composed, trustworthy, stable

Needs to work on: Adjustment and acceptance for change, confrontation with other people, effectiveness, sensitivity to criticism

S-types are known for being loyal friends, who are ready to listen and give good advice. They radiate senses of security and reliability. People love to open to S-types.

S-type managers are loved by employees for their coaching management style. They welcome employee’s opinions and tightly cooperate with their employees in decision making. Their humility, patience, and consistency keep the team strong and stable. Their employees feel at ease coming to them for advice and look up to them as trustworthy coaches.

Such appreciation S-types pay to others often prevent them from confrontation, from which they may pile up their grudges. Changes, criticism, or any disruptions are difficult to take for S-types as they have a strong preference for safety. Their inflexibility also often leads to stagnation at work.

If you are an S-type, there are times you need to pluck up your courage and confront others on important matters. Remember that conflicts happen and don’t let your inner fear stop you from doing what you deem is right.

“The only constant is change”, accept that changes are necessary and prepare yourself for the inevitable changes. Successful managers are those who adapt well and find opportunities for growth within changes.

DISC leadership style

Conscientious (C)

Characteristics: conscientious, meticulous, precise, analytical

Strengths: great attention to detail, critical thinking, organization

Needs to work on: quick reaction/decision making, obsession with details, social interaction

One of the world’s richest billionaires who brought about Microsoft, Bill Gates, is a C-type.

C-type people are focused on the process and achievement-driven. They are exceptionally hard-working and thorough with whatever they do. They are great critical thinkers who desire perfection and won’t let any details slip.

Therefore, C-type managers do a great job employing example-setting management style at work. As they seek perfection and a systematic style of work, they take great care of what they do and expect employees to follow their path. C-type managers foster the team to strive for perfection and won’t satisfy unless the team achieves the best possible result.

C-types’ obsession with details often extends the decision making process, and therefore reduces team efficiency. Their compliance with high standards may sometimes stress employees out and induce tension in their workplace relationships.

As a C-type manager, bear in mind that although compliance with strong work ethics is a wonderful trait for success, cooperation with your teammates is also essential, and good cooperation starts with empathy and building strong bonds with them. Letting go of extreme controls and accepting your employees’ differences in work styles makes you a much likable boss.

You should balance your urge to dig into the details and the need to look at the big picture. When it is necessary, make quicker decisions without having to closely examine every little detail.

DISC leadership style

How important DISC is to managers

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”, Aristotle once said. Complete understanding of DISC personalities and honest identification of your traits are the cornerstone of knowing and developing your personal and professional self.

Your self-understanding is crucial to figuring out what works best for you and what to expect of yourself. Good self-understanding leads you to the most suitable decisions and keeps you from doubting yourself. Self-understanding is an indispensable feature that managers, as the decision makers, all need to have.

Having discovered your personality and management style, it is important to keep in mind that no particular type is born to be a leader. People of all four types are capable of becoming great leaders should they learn to embrace their strengths, overcome their weaknesses and adjust their management styles in accordance with the job’s requirements.

What kind of manager do you identify yourself as? What are the other traits that you have and how do you utilize those to improve your management? Read more about different management styles here.

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