Here’s How Your DISC Personality Type Predicts Your Leadership Style

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on September 23, 2022

If you’re in charge when things hit the fan, how will you behave? 

And is there anything you can do to be better prepared for it?

Whether you’re in a leadership role yourself or your task is to nurture up-and-coming leaders, being able to answer these questions truthfully goes a long way toward ensuring your company’s success. And one of the best personality type assessments for leadership self-awareness is DISC – a quick and accurate measure of likely workplace performance.  

So how does DISC predict your leadership style? Read on to find out! 

What is a DISC personality type?

First things first: a quick recap on DISC. The DISC model defines four different types of personalities: DRIVE, INFLUENCE, SUPPORT and CLARITY. Sometimes, you’ll see these personality styles described as DOMINANT, INFLUENTIAL, STEADY and CONSCIENTIOUS. That’s just language choice; they mean the same thing.

The DISC personality types are mostly used in a workplace context. They can help direct your job preferences and identify careers that will satisfy you in the long term, and they definitely can be used to predict how a person will approach the leadership process. Here’s a rundown of the four preferences:  

D: Drive types are fairly authoritarian and prefer as much control as possible. Targeting speed and execution and emphasizing a decisive mentality, Drive types are motivated by winning.

I: Influencers lean into the people around them, using social and informal ways to get where they’re going. They work with a charismatic, extraverted, and visionist mentality and are motivated by social recognition. 

S: Support people are steady-as-they-go types who embrace a supportive, developmental mindset. They are drawn to long-term goals and value things like loyalty, collaboration, and commitment. Support types are motivated by opportunities to help.

C: Clarity types are all about quality and compliance, details, and expectations. They prefer things to be in writing, and they pursue objectives and tasks with a systematic drive. This type is motivated by opportunities to show their expertise and produce quality work.

How does a DISC Personality Type predict leadership styles?

Good leaders are capable of steering the ship in times of calm and stress while bringing out the best work in their team. The DISC personality type assessment gives insight as to how a leader might contribute to helping a team respond to the challenges before them.

As usual, there isn’t one “best” style of leadership any more than there is one “best” personality type or DISC result. Everyone has the potential to bring something really great to the table. However, different work situations call for different leadership styles. Organizations tend to see the best results when the style matches the situation.

With that in mind, this is what each leadership style looks like and where it’s most called for in the workplace.

Drive leadership – great for teams that need clear direction

The Drive leader confidently takes control of every situation. They challenge the team with high expectations and set the big picture in place. You will recognize this style when the atmosphere feels competitive and high-energy. This style is great for teams that need strong direction and a leader who gets results.

Influence leadership – great for inspiring action and vision 

Influencers are eager to inspire the team with what the future can hold. They are skilled at giving others autonomy with problem-solving, and they use verbal communication to move projects forward. You will recognize this style when the atmosphere feels enthusiastic and outgoing. This style performs well for teams that need a leader with innovation and creative ambition. 

Support leadership – great for skills development, collaboration and stability

Support personalities lead by example and encourage the team to be cooperative and reliable. This style is eager to develop the team through mentoring, patience, and education, and you will recognize it when the atmosphere feels harmonious and grounded. This style shines on teams that need a compassionate and supportive leader.

Clarity leadership – great for when quality and consistency matters 

Leaders with a Clarity preference are clear on rules and processes. They encourage the team to use specific, tested paths to problem-solve, and organize data and communication records as they go. You will recognize this style when the atmosphere feels methodical and practical. This style is great for teams that need more structure and a leader who strives for accuracy.

Do my DISC results predict my future success?

No. Every DISC personality type possesses what it takes to be a good leader – it’s what you do with what you have that matters. Effective leaders are self-aware but adaptable. They know how to flex, learn new strategies, adjust on the fly, and roll with the complex industry or group they are leading. The DISC personality type assessment is another road map to your own definition of personal success.

Often, the test of good leadership is how the leader responds under stress. Most of us revert to our default settings under stress and this may become a roadblock to our team’s success. DISC can be helpful here, as it supports leaders to discover how their strengths could become potential weaknesses in challenging situations. Here are some things to look out for so you can build bridges over the gaps and create a leadership style that works in every situation:

Drive styles should take care to:

  • Be aware of situations that call for more team input as opposed to forcing decisions
  • Notice when they’re being too impatient or fast-paced for some team members
  • Ramp up personal interaction – instead of barking commands – to create valuable team-building opportunities 
  • Practice patience, collaboration, and accepting occasional mistakes

Influence styles should take care to:

  • Focus on objectives instead of being lured sideways with possibilities, new tools, or inspiring side ideas
  • Fully consider the risks involved in a project, instead of putting people before the tasks at hand 
  • Get comfortable with making tough decisions and not being liked  
  • Practice organization and accepting that you can’t please everyone 

Support types should take care to:

  • Get comfortable with change and learn ways to flex when projects invariably stray from their original straight lines – risk-aversion sometimes means missed opportunities
  • Hold team members accountable 
  • Let conflicts within the team simmer instead of always clearing the air
  • Practice being less sensitive to criticism, having healthy confrontation skills, and accepting course corrections

Clarity types should take care to:

  • Recall that action can be more effective than research in certain phases of a project
  • Allow flexibility instead of demanding the team conforms to a single way of doing things
  • Understand the social or emotional repercussions of a project for team members
  • Practice making faster decisions, practicing social skills, and releasing perfectionism.

Start evaluating and applying your DISC personality type to supercharge your leadership style now!

Jolie Tunnell

Jolie Tunnell is an author, freelance writer and blogger with a background in administration and education. Raising a Variety Pack of kids with her husband, she serves up hard-won wisdom with humor, compassion and insight. Jolie is an ISTJ and lives in San Diego, California where she writes historical mysteries. Visit her at jolietunnell.com

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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