Support in the DISC Personality System
In the DISC Personality System, people with the Support style are most content when they are an integral part of a team. They are steady, inclusive, and patient, working to make sure everyone gets a chance to be heard and decisions are fair. Support types build strong relationships and enjoy helping others achieve their goals, but they can struggle with trying new things and adapting to change.
Support is one of the four main personality types in the DISC assessment system. It describes behavior that is helpful, caring, steady and reliable. People who have a Support personality type are typically cooperative, patient, friendly and loyal to their colleagues and friends. They tend to be focused on relationships and build them over time by demonstrating dependability and consistency.
Support personalities are often seen as the "glue" that holds teams together. They work well in collaborative settings and are usually the first to lend a helping hand. The Support style is less well suited to competitive environments where it's every man for himself.
Support Style Overview
The “S” of the DISC system stands for Support and supporting others is exactly what these types excel at. Support types rarely have their own agenda; rather, they are all about noticing what others need and finding ways to serve them. People with a Support style have an intense focus on relationships and helping people reach their goals.
In the workplace, Support people are likely to appear:
They are less likely to appear:
Work Style and Talents of a Support Type
Support personalities tend to be team players who put the group first. Compared to other personality types, they are less interested in individual achievement, but highly motivated when it comes to serving the team. While they typically work quietly in the background and rarely seek the limelight, there is a sense that they are simply "there" for people, ensuring everyone is heard and supported.
Support types are often great listeners and have an exceptional ability to understand people and build trust with them over time. They're also patient, even-keeled and rarely fly off the handle when things don't go as planned.
These types prefer harmony over competition and they dislike change. They often take a while to warm up to new people and situations and prefer to maintain the established system and status quo. People with high Support often take a lot of time to consider all perspectives before making decisions. This can make them slow to act but ultimately helps ensure that the fairest decision is made.
Strengths of a Support type
Support people tend to be good at:
- Building strong relationships
- Collaborating with others
- Serving in a support role
- Being patient and tolerant
- Accommodating others’ perspectives
- Doing what they say they will
- Working with a wide range of people
- Working steadily to achieve goals
Blind Spots of a Support Type
Support people may find it difficult to:
- Take risks
- Try new things
- Make fast or difficult decisions
- Resist the influence of others
- Be direct and assertive
- Lead or manage people
- Set boundaries and stick to them
- Shift to smarter ways of working
Ideal Work Environment
Support types prefer work environments that are predictable and stable. They thrive when they can build relationships with colleagues, help others on their team and serve people a supportive role. It's important for them to feel like they have control over their own work, which is why they often prefer roles that don't involve too much pressure or strict deadlines.
Management styles that suit Support personalities will typically emphasize teamwork, set clear goals and expectations, provide feedback in a patient and supportive manner, and reward loyalty.
Support people tend to work best when they have:
- Clear goals and expectations
- Steady-paced projects with reasonable deadlines
- Opportunities to build relationships with colleagues
- A safe working environment where their opinions are respected
- A low-pressure environment
- Minimal exposure to change
They may feel drained when they have:
- Unclear goals
- Tight timelines
- High-pressure environments
- Competitive cultures
- Drama and confrontation
- Withdrawn or overly independent colleagues
- A lot of solo work
Careers for Support Types
Roles that Support personalities might find fulfilling include social work, teacher, counselor. Nurse. administrative assistant, customer service representative, human resources specialist, office manager, medical office assistant.
The Support Type on a Team
Support types bring a lot of value to teams. They often serve as the anchor that keeps the team ship from setting adrift and play a critical role in helping ensure that all views are heard, respected, and taken into account when making decisions.
On a team, Support people tend to work well with others who ...
- Take a team-first approach to problem-solving
- Respect individual differences
- Value collaboration
- Avoid causing unnecessary conflict
- Don't take advantage of their supportive nature
They may clash with those who ...
- Are overly competitive
- Focus only on achieving individual goals
- Confront problems head-on
- Don't take others’ feelings into account
On a team, Support people tend to excel at:
- Creating a safe and welcoming environment
- Ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard
- Staying calm under pressure
- Keeping the peace
- Being patient with people's mistakes
- Communicating clearly and calmly with the team
On a team, Support people need to watch out for:
- Denying that problems exist
- Holding their tongue when they need to speak out
- Being overwhelmed by the pressure to make quick decisions
- Sacrificing results for harmony
- Missing their own deadlines because they're too busy supporting others
- Passively resisting change
The Support Type as a Leader
Support personalities are natural collaborators who like to reach win-win solutions. Their ability to build strong relationships and care for others makes them well-suited to lead teams with a focus on teamwork, inclusivity, fairness and respect. They excel at creating an environment where all team members feel supported, appreciated and affirmed.
As leaders, Support people tend to excel at:
- Helping others achieve their goals
- Fostering collaboration
- Ensuring that everyone’s opinion is heard and valued
- Including everyone in decisions, projects and tasks
- Maintaining harmony within the team
- Delivering feedback in a tactful manner
They may need to watch out for:
- Lack of assertiveness
- Avoiding difficult conversations
- Not setting clear boundaries
- Compromising too much
- Being unwilling or unable to adapt to change
- Avoiding risks
Communicating as and with a Support Type
Support personalities prefer to communicate in a non-confrontational manner, so it's important to respect their style and be patient when talking with them. Be polite, take your time and clearly explain what you need to happen next.
Some helpful tips for communicating as a Support type:
- Discuss how situations make you feel
- Use more direct language
- Communicate your accomplishments
- Try to balance talking with doing
- Initiate difficult conversations instead of avoiding sensitive issues
Some helpful tips for communicating with a Support type:
- Be patient and considerate
- Listen carefully
- Respect their need for collaboration
- Acknowledge their feelings
- Be polite and respectful
- Allow them time to make decisions
- Don't bulldoze them into saying 'yes' when they really want to say 'no'
Support Types in Conflict
Many Support personalities find conflict stressful and overwhelming. If a Support type finds themselves in the middle of a conflict, they must use strategies to remain calm and try to focus on finding an amicable solution. These types may need reminding that conflict doesn't have to be negative – it can help build understanding, foster collaboration, and promote growth. While this is a difficult lesson for Support types to learn, they can emerge stronger after successfully navigating a conflict situation.
When in conflict, Support types tend to:
- Avoid confrontation
- Withdraw and stay silent
- Worry about offending people
- Strive for fairness and harmony
- Brush problems under the rug
Some helpful tips for managing conflict with a Support type:
- Remain calm and patient
- Emphasize your desire to maintain a good relationship
- Be willing to compromise
- Separate the person from the problem
- Bring them back to the conversation if they start to withdraw
- Look for an amicable solution
Support Types Under Stress
Support personalities tend to be sensitive and can become overwhelmed when put under too much pressure. In these cases, they need to take a step back and focus on calming their mind and body. Support types can become bitter and resentful when stress is allowed to build up, so they must take the time to acknowledge and deal with it before they start lashing out and blaming others.
Some helpful tips for managing stress as a Support type:
- Take some time off to reflect
- Prioritize yourself instead of playing the martyr
- Do activities that promote relaxation, such as yoga or meditation
- Talk about your feelings with a friend
- Lean on others to help you manage tight deadlines or heavy workloads
The Support Subtypes
While all Support types tend to share the same general characteristics, not everyone will have a pure Support workstyle. In fact, there are two subtypes within the Support style that have some distinct differences. They are:
S/i (Support + Influence) – This subtype is a combination of high Support and high Influence. S/i types tend to be more outgoing and energetic than pure Support types. They easily adjust to someone else's style and to difficult situations, and do well in roles where they can counsel, mentor, guide and support. They can easily over-extend, however, and may need to work on prioritizing themselves as much as they prioritize others.
Good career options for this type include teaching, ministry, client services, human resources, therapist, executive assistant and customer success professional.
S/c (Support + Clarity) – This subtype is a combination of high Support and high Clarity. S/c types tend to be organized, diplomatic and humble, often preferring to let others lead. They are a highly stabilizing presence on teams and can be extremely perceptive, detail-oriented, and meticulous in their work.
Good career options for this type include researcher, copy editor, paralegal, accountant, quality assurance and risk manager.
Famous People with the Support Personality Type
There are plenty of famous people who demonstrate the Support personality type. Here are just a few:
- Mother Teresa - Activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient
- The Dalai Lama - Spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient
- Keanu Reeves - Actor
- Helen Keller - Author and political activist
- David Beckham - Former professional soccer player
How Rare is the Support Personality Type?
The four personality styles of the DISC system are not equally represented and most studies suggest that Support is the most common style among the general population. According to a 2019 Extended DISC Global Validation Study, 32% of people globally have a Support style, compared with 31% for Clarity, 28% for Influence and just 9% for Drive.
Tips for Success as a Support Type
Support types are at their best when they focus on their collaboration strengths in a steady, predictable and inclusive environment. They should take care to not be too passive and overly trusting, however, as others may take advantage of their supportive nature.
To increase your effectiveness, try these 10 tips for success:
- Practice active and direct communication with others
- Be open to feedback and criticism
- Be willing to compromise and negotiate
- Practice saying 'no'
- Stay flexible and adaptable in different situations
- Focus on overall goals rather than specific processes
- Share your opinions and true feelings
- Learn a framework for dealing with conflict constructively
- Practice taking the lead and taking the initiative
- Set strong boundaries and learn to recognise when others are taking advantage of your generosity
To learn more about the Support type and discover whether it fits you, take the free DISC personality test.