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Is there an ideal DISC style for a leader? Wouldn’t it be easy if there was. We could continuously recruit that behavioural style across all organisations, knowing that they would succeed in their role. Company culture would be great, and all the team members would be motivated and productive. Unfortunately, the answer here is no. There is not an ideal DISC profile that is better than the others at being a leader.


Before we look into the different leadership styles, it’s essential we outline the role of a manager or leader. Leadership and management go hand in hand, though they are not necessarily the same thing. A manager is more task focused, and a leader is more people focused.


Extended DISC assessments recognise this difference as it’s imperative to map out which style a person might have a natural tendency toward. Arguably the most critical part of being a leader is their level of self-awareness. Research from Ginka Toegel and Jean-Louis Barsoux found that “75 members of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council rated self-awareness as the most important capability for leaders to develop. Executives need to know where their natural inclinations lie to boost them or compensate for them.” Leaders with higher levels of self-awareness also tend to have greater job satisfaction and commitment to their organisation. This effect also appears to trickle down to the leaders’ direct reports (Luthans and Peterson, 2003).


Each leader has their unique strengths and development areas. This means they may be more natural in some areas of what we expect of a leader than in others. Supervisors must know whether they tend towards management or leadership and learn to combine it with the other style which does not come so naturally to them.


Supervisors who lean toward a more task-focused approach may need to remember to connect with their team. On the other hand, supervisors who veer toward a people focused style may need to remember to set goals and assign tasks.


Each behavioural style has its specific requirements of what they need from a supervisor. An increased level of self-awareness is what makes leaders so great. They understand who they naturally are and how to adapt their style to suit the needs of their team members.


D Style


D styles are task orientated leaders. Their authoritative leadership style is based on power, results and distance.  They are decisive and tend to make quick decisions. They perform well in a crisis. D styles are also straightforward. They can come across as blunt, direct and to the point. D styles don’t mince words and expect others to also communicate in the same concise manner. D styles tend to exert pressure through the setting of demanding goals.


I Style


I styles are people focused and the most social of leaders. Their authority is based on charisma and motivation. As a leader, they tend to create a positive, relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. I styles will often lead by being a friend to their followers. Their friendly nature makes them easy to approach with questions or feedback. Creativity, positivity and good energy are valued more than accuracy and attention to detail. I styles motivate by inspiration rather than traditionally applying pressure.


S Style


S styles are steady and sincere leaders. They are cool, calm and collected. The S styles authority is based on experience, expertise and bureaucratic status. They are comfortable in maintaining routines and are generally very service orientated. They prefer working in smaller teams as they have a very participative style to their leadership approach. They have a great ability to guide, develop and teach their people. They do not have a firm goal focus but rather a gradual evolution of achieving targets.


C Style


C Styles are slower paced than the other styles. They are deep thinkers and usually more serious than other styles. C styles authority is based on rules, standards and quality. They make sure all team members know what is expected of them. C styles take more time analysing and reading through facts and figures rather than making quick decisions on what feels right. C Styles need space to focus and work. They can sometimes create distance or remoteness between themselves and the rest of the team.


So how do we go about selecting the right leader for the role? The style you require may be dependent on the type of manager you need at the time. If we are recruiting for a leader, it would be wise to look at the position and the job responsibilities. Create a firm understanding of the people in the team they would be leading and recruit leaders accordingly.


Think about all the qualities you would like in a leader and write them on a list. Do the job and team require a leader who is flexible, excellent at facilitating communication, an organiser, a visionary or someone who can be an authority figure? If it’s internal recruitment or development, use the DISC assessment to help identify training gaps where the leader may need your support.


There is no best fit for an ‘ideal leader’. They can be any DISC style. Different leadership styles may be required for different situations and also for the styles of people in the team. To be successful, leaders need to have a high level of self-awareness. Leaders need to understand their preferred leadership style and how to adapt this to manage their team better.


SR Group uses the more advanced and powerful tool, Extended DISC to enhance personal and team performance. If you would like a sample report to see what sort of valuable information it uncovers, please contact me directly.


With thanks to HR Profiling for the majority of the background information in this article.


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