A Deep Dive into 7+ DiSC Leadership Styles [+Traits & Tips]

DiSC leadership styles are specific tendencies and traits that each of the DiSC types and subtypes exhibits when they are in a position of power. In other words, knowing someone’s type can tell you a lot about what kind of leader they would make.

In this article, we examine each DiSC leadership style in detail and explore their common behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses. We will also establish which DiSC style is ideal for leadership and explore why that is the case.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • There are eight key DiSC leadership styles based on four DiSC personality types and their subtypes. Each bears the name of the specific type or subtype.
  • The best DiSC leadership style is considered to be the Dominance/Conscientiousness (DC) style due to its analytical nature, efficiency, independence, and situational awareness.
  • DiSC leadership styles can change over time, but only with sustained effort; otherwise, they rarely change on their own.
  • Every style has specific traits associated with good leadership—ideally, a leader should strive to adopt a range of those regardless of their actual type.

What is the DiSC Personality Assessment?

7+ DiSC Leadership Styles

Retrieved from: leadx.org

The DiSC personality assessment is a test that classifies human behavior into four distinct categories named after a specific trait. These include Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

Before sorting behavior into these four categories, the DiSC personality test determines where the participants land on the two intersecting axes: bold/cautious and questioning/accepting. Once that’s established, it’s easy to see which of the four quadrants they belong to.

For example, Dominance is found in the so-called bold and questioning quadrant, while Influence inhabits the bold and accepting one. On the cautious end of the scale, we have Steadiness in the accepting quadrant and Conscientiousness in the questioning one.

The DiSC assessment has many uses, but it’s most commonly administered in professional settings. In particular, HR finds it useful for job candidate selection, while managers often use its insights to build well-balanced teams that perfectly complement each other.

However, the DiSC theory is perhaps most interesting when it deals with leadership styles and predicts how people might behave in positions of power.

8 DiSC Leadership Styles

According to the DiSC model, there are eight basic leadership styles that correlate with the four DiSC personality types and their subtypes. Each style is characterized by its type’s or subtype’s tendencies, behaviors, and traits.

Below, we will explore DiSC leadership styles in more detail and offer some tips on how each can improve its approach:

#1. High Dominance Style

A high Dominance style of leadership is associated with the D personality type, which is described as bold, assertive, outspoken, and strong-willed. As a result, these personalities can be linked to the ENTJ or ESTJ types in the 16 personalities theory.

Much like these two types, people with D personalities are known to be ambitious, decisive leaders with clear goals and high standards. Their DiSC leadership style is also known as “commanding leadership” due to their tendency to give clear, concise instructions and expect everyone to meet and exceed their expectations.

On the one hand, commanding leadership is highly effective because of its clear hierarchy and detailed directions. However, it can be detrimental to employees’ morale, as it leaves the impression that there is no room for rest or error.

Furthermore, leaders with the Dominance style may inadvertently treat their employees as cogs in a machine rather than living, breathing people. They often forget to pay attention to their followers’ feelings and opinions, causing them to feel unappreciated and neglected.

Besides this, here are some traits that characterize this leadership style:

  • Assertive
  • Competitive
  • Ambitious
  • Insistent
  • Domineering
  • Determined
  • Confident




Lack of attention to employees’ needs

Direct and clear

Potentially low morale

Healthy competition

High standards

Tip for improvement: Try a more laid-back approach and give your employees more room to breathe. Contrary to your expectations, this won’t negatively impact their performance—in fact, they’ll feel more respected and thus eager to work harder towards achieving your shared goals!

#2. High Influence Style

What is the DiSC Personality Assessment?

Like the high Dominance style, the high Influence DiSC leadership style is fast-paced and bold, but it’s also significantly more upbeat, creative, and enthusiastic. Generally speaking, the Influence type correlates with the judging and feeling extroverts of 16 personalities, but its leadership style is closer to the ESFP or ENFP approach to life.

In other words, high Influence leaders are enthusiastic, excitable, and eager to experiment. Their style is frequently dubbed “energizing leadership” since it inspires those around them and generates infectious, positive energy.

Furthermore, energizing leaders prioritize good rapport with their employees and colleagues, frequently organizing team activities to strengthen the bonds between their followers. They also find value in the free exchange of ideas and are happy to hear everyone out, regardless of their position in the company.

However, leaders with a high Influence style can prioritize their own popularity to the detriment of their goals and interests. Simply put, they might not be willing to step into the “boss” role when necessary, fearing that it may damage their image as an easy-going leader.

Unfortunately, this may result in a chaotic, disorganized workplace with employees who don’t truly respect their leader’s authority. And without some level of authority, a leader can hardly be recognized as such.

Let's explore some traits common to this similar leadership style:

  • Energetic
  • Enthusiastic
  • Fast-paced
  • Positive
  • Optimistic
  • Charming
  • Open-minded



- Willingness to experiment

- Excessive focus on popularity and approval

- A friendly, enthusiastic approach

- Overly easy-going approach

- Focus on bonding within the team

- Lack of authority and consistency

Tip for improvement: Sometimes, you’ll need to be tough on your employees, too—you’re their leader, not their friend. Don’t hesitate to criticize them when necessary and demand that your expectations be met. Just remember to do that with kindness and empathy, and your relationship will still remain intact.

#3. High Steadiness Style

People with the Steadiness DiSC style are known for their “inclusive leadership,” which prioritizes collaboration, equality, and stability. In general, S types are empathetic, warm, and easy-going, reminiscent of ISFJs and INFJs, who tend to be kind and well-liked.

Unsurprisingly, S types bring these same traits into their leadership style, ensuring that everyone is comfortable and their needs are taken care of. They prefer to treat their employees as equals and encourage open conversations, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas. As a result, they quickly become their employees’ favorites.

However, their kind nature has a significant downside, too. Namely, inclusive leaders can be overly passive and lenient, allowing people to take advantage of their patience and dodge responsibilities. And since S types prioritize harmony, they are always more willing to let go of these grievances than enter a conflict.

A few characteristics that define this style:

  • Warm
  • Accepting
  • Empathetic
  • Accommodating
  • Considerate
  • Stable
  • Consistent



- High morale

- Passive leadership

- Warm, friendly, inclusive atmosphere

- Excessive leniency

- Open exchange of ideas and collaboration

- Conflict-aversion that can be detrimental to progress

Tip for improvement: It’s important to hold your employees accountable for their work instead of always attempting to be patient and understanding. Take note of those who evade responsibility too frequently and discuss this with them openly—you can still be kind but don’t forget to be firm, too.

#4. High Conscientiousness Style

The Conscientiousness, or C type, is analytical, logical, and precise, with a somewhat reserved, aloof demeanor. Usually, this DiSC style is compared to INTJs or INTPs, who are just as private and concerned with objectivity as C types.

In leadership positions, C types are efficient, disciplined, and excellent at analyzing any situation at hand. These unique analytical skills allow them to accurately predict the outcomes of their actions, which makes them particularly careful and effective planners. As a result, they are often referred to as “deliberate leaders.”

However, deliberate leaders can be overly perfectionistic and risk-averse to the point of inaction. That’s because they are prone to overanalyzing and often get lost in all the potential courses of action they could take.

Furthermore, leaders with the Conscientiousness style can pay just as little attention to their employees’ feelings as those with the Dominance preference. They rarely do this on purpose, but their minds tend to be too focused on facts, losing sight of emotions, needs, and desires.

The traits that typify this leadership style:

  • Analytical
  • Objective
  • Perfectionistic
  • Cautious
  • Disciplined
  • Risk-averse
  • Aloof



- Excellent analytical skills

- Overly cautious leadership

- Discipline and consistency

- Perfectionistic and risk-averse nature

- Unique ability to foresee future outcomes of most actions

- Impersonal communication

Tip for improvement: Try to build closer connections with your employees instead of keeping them at arm’s length. Of course, they may not be your friends, but showing some interest in their thoughts and personal lives can do wonders for your rapport and your team’s morale.

#5. Dominance/Influence Style

The Dominance/Influence leadership style encompasses two DiSC personality subtypes: Di and iD. Although they have some differences, these two types possess a mixture of Dominance and Influence traits, which make them bold, passionate, charismatic, and energetic.

These same characteristics can also be found in their leadership style, which is often referred to as “pioneering.” That’s because Di and iD leaders are difficult to intimidate and tend to pursue even those ideas that others find too unconventional and impractical.

In other words, they truly are pioneers, and they are charming enough to inspire others to follow them. However, this can be a double-edged sword—fantastic when their ideas are genuinely good but concerning when they turn their attention to reckless and potentially detrimental pursuits.

Unfortunately, pioneering leaders rarely spend time carefully analyzing whether their course of action benefits or harms them. Instead, they tend to be impulsive and overconfident, throwing themselves headfirst into new projects and dealing with the consequences only once they arise.

Common traits of the Dominance/Influence Style:

  • Passionate
  • Confident
  • Charismatic
  • Impulsive
  • Reckless
  • Bold
  • Unconventional



- Unrestrained exploration of novel ideas

- Reckless, impulsive decision-making

- Inspiring, enthusiastic leadership

- Lack of deliberation

- Out-of-the-box approach to problem-solving

- Interest in wild and impractical ideas

Tip for improvement: You might benefit from a level-headed advisor to temper your overly bold and passionate nature. While your ideas may sound good in theory, they may be more trouble than they’re worth in practice. So, it’s wise to consult others before putting your energy into something unprofitable.

#6. Dominance/Conscientiousness Style

DiSC Leadership Styles

The Dominance/Conscientiousness leadership style is characteristic of DC and CD personality types, which possess a mixture of Dominance and Conscientiousness traits. As a result, they tend to be independent, bold, skeptical, and efficient—prototypes of “resolute leadership.”

Resolute leaders are critical thinkers who never settle for the status quo and always seek ways to grow and improve. Their bold nature makes them unafraid to challenge others and themselves, but they are also analytical enough to understand their own limits. Consequently, they rarely overestimate themselves.

However, their propensity for questioning everything can make them overly cynical and suspicious, even of those who closely work with them. Thus, they have micromanaging tendencies and may struggle to entrust responsibilities to others.

This can be quite exhausting—after all, delegating tasks to trusted employees is what eases the leader's burden. If resolute leaders can’t do that, they may burn themselves out and compromise their team’s overall performance.

Here are a few characteristics that define this leadership style:

  • Independent
  • Efficient
  • Determined
  • Analytical
  • Innovative
  • Bold
  • Skeptical



- A thoughtful, analytical approach to problem-solving

- Micromanaging tendencies

- Never settling for the status quo

- Skeptical, suspicious nature

- Growth mindset

Tip for improvement: Have some faith in your employees; you’ve hired them for a reason. Don’t let your skepticism cloud your judgment and force you to take too much on your plate. Instead, delegate responsibilities and trust that everything will run smoothly without your interference.

#7. Influence/Steadiness Style

The Influence/Steadiness DiSC leadership style encompasses iS and Si subtypes, which blend Influence and Steadiness traits together. Generally speaking, individuals with these two subtypes are warm, friendly, positive, and agreeable.

As a result, they are known for their “affirming leadership” style, which inspires deep loyalty and trust among their employees. They strive to nurture an accepting, positive working environment that makes everyone feel welcome and appreciated.

Similarly to the high Influence style, affirming leadership prioritizes bonds with employees, which can be both beneficial and detrimental. Of course, it’s important to cultivate a good relationship with coworkers, but a leader must be firm when necessary. Affirming leaders often struggle with the latter, feeling uncomfortable with stricter roles.

Some traits that characterize the Influence/Steadiness Style:

  • Friendly
  • Sociable
  • Warm
  • Agreeable
  • Positive
  • Patient
  • Conflict-averse



- A friendly, welcoming work environment

- Extreme conflict-aversion

- Positive outlook

- Lack of directness in communication

- Good rapport between employees and managers

- Insufficient focus on results

Tip for improvement: Communicate your expectations openly and directly and hold your employees accountable for their work. This may be difficult at first, but you’ll soon notice a growth in productivity and your employees’ increased respect.

#8. Steadiness/Conscientiousness Style

Finally, the Steadiness/Conscientiousness DiSC leadership style, otherwise known as “humble leadership,” can be found in SC and CS subtypes. Leaders with this style are generally reliable and modest, preferring to stick to what they know and produce consistent results.

Of course, this approach may not be as efficient as those used by more proactive leaders, but it works, and that’s often good enough for these types. Guided by the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mindset, humble leaders rarely feel the need to experiment with the unknown or pursue ideas outside their comfort zone.

However, this mindset can make them overly rigid and stuck in their ways, to the point that they reject change even when it’s clearly necessary. As a result, despite their general reliability, humble leaders become an obstacle to their own growth.

Observe the defining traits of the Steadiness/Conscientiousness Style:

  • Stable
  • Responsible
  • Reliable
  • Consistent
  • Diplomatic
  • Modest
  • Rigid



- Reliance on tried-and-true methods

- Resistance to novelty and change

- Consistent results

- Rigid mindset

- Dutiful approach to responsibility

- Lack of experimentation

Tip for improvement: Even if your results are consistent, change can be the breath of fresh air that your employees need. Don’t shy away from it; instead, figure out how to best adapt to the circumstances and use the novelty to your advantage.

What DiSC Style is Best for Leadership?

disc personality types

The DiSC style that is best for leadership is likely the Dominance/Conscientiousness style, otherwise known as resolute leadership.

For a long time, Dominance was considered to be the prevailing DiSC style among famous leaders due to its bold and assertive traits. However, Dominance on its own can be too intense and demoralizing, so it needs to be tempered by characteristics found in other styles.

According to a study by Kotagal of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Pellegrini of the University of Washington, great leaders should possess both situational awareness and self-awareness—something DC and CD styles have in abundance. As a result, we can conclude that these subtypes naturally thrive as leaders.

Still, it’s important to note that every DiSC type and subtype has certain characteristics that are crucial for a good leader. Ideally, a leader should adopt those traits regardless of their specific style or at least strive to do so.

Can the DiSC Leadership Style Change?

The DiSC leadership style can change, but only if you put conscious effort into changing specific characteristics. Otherwise, the DiSC style is unlikely to change naturally unless we’re talking about minor transitions into a neighboring subtype.

That’s not to say that you’re rigidly bound to a set of traits associated with your DiSC leadership style. On the contrary, the DiSC theory claims that you can possess characteristics of several types at once—your dominant is simply the one you identify with the most.

If you do set your mind on changing your DiSC leadership style, remember this: the closer you are to the center of the DiSC circle, the easier that will be. After all, those who land in the center tend to loosely identify with their type’s traits, while those who find themselves at the edges exhibit pronounced stereotypical characteristics.

Final Thoughts

Discovering your own DiSC leadership style can help you learn more about yourself and bring light to the areas you need to work on as a leader. Even if you are on the opposite side as an employee, the DiSC assessment can give you insight into your bosses and managers and assist you in adjusting to their approaches.

An even better idea is to pair up the DiSC assessment with the 16 personalities test—that way, you’ll get a fuller picture of your personality, especially in professional settings or positions of power.

Find out how your personality traits influence your career with these insightful career tools:

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