Disc Personality Profiles & Leadership Styles. Illuminating a High-D Style

by | Jan 13, 2015

DiSC Personality profiles can provide valuable insights into how leaders lead and are perceived.

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.”

 – Steve Jobs

How often do the following scenarios transpire in businesses?

Leader: “I’m strong, authoritative, and confident. I can solve problems, and my people rely on me to make good decisions. I get results.”

Direct-Report: “My manager/boss doesn’t really listen to me. He doesn’t seem to want to have a social conversation or hear the details of my proposals or challenges. He’s controlling, demanding, and blunt.”

Who is right? Both may be quite accurate!

As critical as it is for leaders to recognize and understand their personalities—strengths, weaknesses, behavioral traits, and communication styles—it is equally essential that they understand how they are perceived by others. How do I, S, C, and other D DiSC personality profiles respond to High-D folks? Determining this can help leaders foster stronger relationships, improve communication, and achieve better results individually and as teams.

Meet the High-D

While any DiSC personality type can excel in leadership positions, the strengths of High-Ds make them especially well-suited for the task. History is littered with High-D leaders, such as Hillary Clinton, Michael Jordan, Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., and Donald Trump. In general, they:

  • Give quick, clear instructions
  • Motivate people into action
  • Control plans and productivity
  • Are authoritative and convincing
  • Engage in direct communications

These characteristics support the High-D individual’s need for action to achieve tangible and measurable results. But they are not always viewed from the same lens. Let’s explore how others may respond to these leaders.

How High I people respond: Let’s follow both a High-D and a High-I individual onto an elevator. The High-D jabs the buttons impatiently, wanting to get to her destination quickly. The High-I holds the door open for newcomers and greets them, probably engaging them in a conversation. High-I individuals will likely view High-Ds as too blunt, direct, and even uncaring; while the Ds feel that they’re just focusing on the task and objectives at hand.

Advice for the High-D: Step out of your comfort zone and take a minute or two to engage in social niceties before getting down to business.

Getting along with a High-S: High-S individuals make wonderful team members. They tend to be patient, are good listeners, and strive for consensus and harmony. They tend to be averse to discord and conflict and they may perceive the High-D’s bolder style as somewhat threatening or at least disconcerting. They may interpret fast-paced behaviors and assertive body language as intimidating, even hostile. In addition, they tend to struggle with change, which can be an issue for quick-thinking, fast-acting High Ds.

Advice for maximizing the potential of High-S individuals: High-Ds would do better to moderate their approach and slow down a bit so the S can catch up. Taking a “kinder, gentler” approach will produce improved results. During times of change, be sure to give your High-S team members plenty of time to adjust.

How High-C responds: High-C team members embrace an analytical and systematic approach to their work and problem-solving skills. They will likely view the High-D’s quick approach as too fast or even impulsive, especially on the first meeting. They may believe that High-D folks don’t consider every detail (which may well be true!). On the other hand and to their benefit, High-Cs like an organized, structured workplace and clear instructions, something High-Ds are adept at providing.

Advice for dealing with High-C individuals: High-Ds need to take the time to listen to the details, even though they tend to be “big picture” people and want to move on quickly. When you provide a structured work environment, clear instructions, and plenty of independence, High-Cs will accomplish their objectives in spades!

How Other High-Ds respond: These individuals want to lead, which can cause friction between High-D leaders and High-D subordinates. The direct-reports will likely overstep authority and boundaries and may not fully accept the authority of their leaders. Power struggles or resentment can mar these relationships and impede success. The leader in control may have to rein in a High-D subordinate from time to time.

Advice for High-D leaders: Provide a variety of tasks to challenge and engage your High-D team members. Provide them with as much autonomy as possible, and guide their leadership potential. Offer opportunities to lead team members and delegate certain projects or initiatives to ease your load and build a trusting relationship.

Understanding DiSc personality profiles, especially for those in leadership and management as they have a significant impact on those within their teams or organizations, will have a positive impact on shaping interpersonal communications and team dynamics. 

While we all have a blend of each style in our personalities, people who present strong D traits can build stronger teams when they take care to moderate their tendencies and build on relationships. If they do not, they can easily run into situations of stalemate where passive-aggressive behaviors can do significant harm to a team. Again, when a High-D steps outside their comfort zone to acknowledge others, the results are better relationships, improved communications, and achievement of superior goals and objectives.

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