Leadership Styles

Which leadership style are you?

Some people we click with, understanding each other with very little effort and working together with ease.

Then there are others who take, well, a bit more work, but sometimes we discover we can get there with some extra care and effort.

If you’ve ever had the feeling that you just can’t get through to someone no matter what you do, then you know how disruptive or even damaging dysfunctional communication can be in the workplace.

How well you are able to direct, delegate work to, motivate, and develop your team members reflects on your ability as a leader.

Team building activities and learning techniques to communicate more effectively can be helpful, but a better understanding of individuals will really improve productivity, teamwork, and communication.

Understanding your personal leadership style is another piece of the puzzle.

We like to bring Everything DiSC® to our clients, a personal assessment tool that’s been used for many, many years, by more than 40 million people (if you’re curious, we’ve given the quirky explanation for the lowercase “i” in “DiSC” below).  

The full version of the tool is based on a series of questions, answered online, and it provides a very detailed report that overviews your behaviour style and helps you adapt to other styles around you.

Don’t panic! There is no “right” or “wrong” type. DiSC doesn’t pass judgement, but rather helps us all understand the differences in how we and others behave.

What’s really valuable is how this DiSC model gives us ways to describe our preferences and motivators and, perhaps even more importantly, gives us strategies that work well for each style (and we touch on common limitations – so you know where you may need to stretch).

We break these strategies for each of the four behaviour styles into:

  • Directing & delegating others;
  • Developing others;
  • Creating a motivating environment, and
  • Managing “up” working with a manager and their behaviour style

The effect of understanding DiSC and using the full online tool can be amazing whether you want to strengthen your leadership, improve how a work team is functioning, or help with sales or other kinds of relationships.

Why it’s helpful

What I really like with the DiSC model is that, unlike other assessments like the Myers-Briggs Indicator, it looks at behaviours with a slightly different lens. Rather than considering our own behaviour type it focuses then on figuring out others’ styles, and helping you adapt to them to build stronger, successful relationships (whether that be relationships with clients and prospective clients through the DiSC Sales tool, or with your staff and your boss through DiSC Management, or even to help everyone on your team interact better with everyone else on the team through DiSC Workplace).

This is an important distinction because how we behave is observed by those around us. And what do we observe? How those around us behave. Not only does DiSC gives us a way to classify and name behaviours (our own and what we see in others), it helps us to learn the motivations behind them so we can make relationships stronger.

It helps in two ways:

The DiSC lens helps with self-awareness so you can understand yourself better. You’ll learn:

  • How you respond to conflict
  • What motivates you
  • What causes you stress
  • How you solve problems
  • How to be a more effective leader

It is also a tool you can use to understand your team. You’ll learn:

  • Ways to facilitate better teamwork
  • What will motivate or stress team members
  • How to minimize team conflict
  • What team members consider priorities
  • How to manage more effectively

Overview of types

When we offer the Everything DiSC profiles as a tool with our one-to-one coaching clients or at group and team workshops, we explore them quite in-depth.

Here’s an overview of the four DiSC styles so you can get some idea of what you’ll learn:

(D)ominance: This person tends to be more fast-paced and outspoken, questioning and skeptical. Priorities include displaying drive, taking action, challenging themselves and others. While motivated by power and authority, competition, winning, and success, this person fears loss of control, being taken advantage of, and vulnerability. You’ll notice someone in the “D” style has self-confidence, directness, forcefulness, and is a risk-taker and you may notice their limitations which means they might appear to lack concern for others, be impatient or insensitive.

(i)nfluence: This person tends to also be fast-paced and outspoken, but also accepting and warm. Priorities include providing encouragement, taking action, and fostering collaboration. While motivated by social recognition, group activities, and friendly relationships, this person fears social rejection, disapproval, loss of influence, and being ignored. You’ll notice someone in the “i” style is charming, enthusiastic, sociable, optimistic, and talkative and you may also notice their limitations will include impulsiveness, disorganization, and lack of follow-through.

(S)teadiness: This person tends to be more cautious and reflective while also accepting and warm. Priorities include giving support, achieving reliability, and enjoying collaboration. While motivated by stable environments, sincere appreciation, cooperation, and opportunities to help, this person tends to fear loss of stability and harmony, change, and offending others. You’ll notice someone in the “S” style is patient, humble, approaches things calmly and is a good listener and team player. Limitations may include being overly accommodating and indecisive and having a tendency to avoid change.

(C)onscientiousness: This person tends to be more cautious and reflective, questioning and skeptical. Priorities include ensuring objectivity and reliability and challenging assumptions.  While motivated by opportunities to use expertise or gain knowledge and paying attention to quality and detail, this person fears criticism, slipshod methods, and being wrong. You’ll notice someone in the “C” style is precise, analytic, skeptical, reserved, and quiet. Their limitations may include being overly critical, with a tendency to overanalyze and self-isolate.

Learning strategies for working with all styles can improve productivity, teamwork, and communication and boost your overall leadership success.

It’s important not to use DiSC and other tools to “pigeon-hole” people, and assume the description of their type captures their complex selves.  And, it’s important not to try to hide behind your DiSC type, explaining away your limitations without any effort to improve.

We offer these Everything DiSC Profiles as stand-alone tools or workshops tailored to strategic leadership, managing people, teamwork, sales, and fundraising AND we’ve included for you today a complimentary “cheat sheet” to help you figure out some of the folks around you. It won’t give you the incredibly accurate understanding we get with the online assessments, but it will give you a starting point to improve relationships.


[ DiSC was developed out of the work of William Moulton Marston (Google him also a very interesting guy). There have been many versions of DiSC but the original and best is the version now owned by Wiley Publishing (the version we use). It was copyrighted with a typo in the name DISC was DiSC. Once others started trying to copy it, the lowercase i in the copyrighted name became a differentiator something that helped folks identify the original and best DiSC tool, from all others. And so, still to this day, the original DISC tool is Everything DiSC by Wiley!]
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