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Which Style of Leader Are You?

October 24, 2019   By Glenn Marczewski


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Which Style of Leader Are You?

Quizzes are everywhere these days: social media newsfeeds, magazines, digital ad click-bait. They’re even mixed in among news articles from credible journalism websites.

They’re so popular that there are satirical memes devoted to them. My favorite is “Which Lion from the Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe Are You?”

(Spolier alert: You’re Aslan)

You’ve likely had to take a test at work as part of your hiring or onboarding process so you could:

  • Find your strengths
  • Determine the color of your parachute
  • Cite “Science” as a reason to skip your brother-in-law’s football party this Sunday (“But Honey, I need to stay home and recharge, I’m an ISFP”)

While these results are fascinating and can lead to self-awareness, they are inward-focused, and therefore not as helpful for developing your interpersonal leadership skills.

As Living As A Leader Facilitator and Coach, Rick Piraino recently wrote in his article, Workplace Relationships,

“As a leader, it’s no longer about what you can do. It’s about what you can get others to do, willingly, whether you are present or not.  Understanding and managing your stylistic strengths and weaknesses in any position is critical. Learning to adapt to others is a lifelong leadership and personal development curriculum.” (On Balance, May 2019)

A “Quiz” that leads to better work relationships and effective leadership

We use the DISC assessment in our training at Living As A Leader because it helps leaders do exactly what Rick wrote about; manage stylistic strengths and weaknesses and adapt to the style of others.

Based on the psychological work of William Moulton Marston, the DISC report is useful in understanding your personal, work and communication style, as well as the styles of those you interact with.

The DISC assessment provides a way to measure a person’s natural and adapted tendencies in four different behavior styles, Dominance (D), Influencing (I), Steadiness (S), and Compliance (C).

I provide a diagram that gives an overview each style's characterstics and a quick way to get a sense of a person’s style toward the bottom of this post.

Understanding others helps us adapt our communication and work style when interacting with those we lead and work with, leading to a culture of mutual respect and understanding. This leads to fewer conflicts and an increased likelihood that you can get others to do what you want them to, willingly.

The key is to rethink the Golden Rule

“We’re all familiar with the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated…The Golden Rule is the foundation for meaningful relationships and cohesive societies when expressed through timeless values such as honesty, integrity, and respect…

Treat others the way they need to be treated is a much more effective strategy when it comes to communication and working together to achieve shared outcomes.” (Taking Flight!: Master the DISC Styles to Transform Your Career, Your Relationships...Your Life)

A real-life example of adapting to the DISC style of others

I experience the benefits of knowing and adapting to the DISC style of others almost daily in my office.

For example, let’s say I need to help from our IT Manger, David.

Knowing that David is a high “C” on the DISC Assessment, his preferred communication style is to have all the facts before taking action.

If I have a request for equipment or software for a project I’m working on, I realize it’s helpful to give him context for what I’m trying to accomplish. He prefers to have plenty of information up front so he can make well-thought-out decisions.

Contrastingly, as a high, “I,” my natural inclination is to be inspired by ideas and want to take action quickly rather than concern myself with any “what-if’s” or spend a lot of time considering details.

Knowing this about me, David is more tolerant of my shoot-from-the-hip approach and able to respectfully point out any challenges and concerns I need to consider that I would have otherwise overlooked.

Similarly, I work closely with Steph, a high "D." Knowing that "D’s" have a preference for organization and efficiency means that I have to step up my game when it comes to managing my time and organizational habits during projects that we collaborate on.

With a tendency toward favoring tasks over relationships, she adjusts her communication style preferences and spends time catching up on our personal lives before discussing any looming projects or work-related requests.

The net result is a much more harmonious work environment than I have ever encountered in my 20+ years of work.

How to determine your DISC style (and the style of your employees)

Having your team take the DISC assessment is the best way to determine the style of your team members and learn how best to interact and adapt to one another.

Here are two simple questions you can use to get a basic sense of the style for yourself and others:

  1. Does this person tend to be an active or passive communicator (Verbal or Reserved)?
  2. Does this person seem to be more task-oriented or people-oriented?

Now use the diagram* below to determine the behavioral style based on your answers.


If you’re interested learning how using DISC in your organization can strengthen the effectiveness of your leadership team and improve the overall employee experience, contact or learn more here.

At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.

For more information, check out our on-demand webinar or contact Steph Kotlarek at

About the Author

Glenn Marczewski

Marketing and Communications Manager, Living As A Leader®

As a copywriter, blogger, videographer, editor, graphic designer, musician and sound engineer, Glenn brings his diverse creative arts background into every aspect of his role as Marketing and Communications Manager.

Email Gelnn Glenn's Bio



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