The Strengths and Limitations of the 4 DISC Styles

‘Strengths’ and ‘Limitations’ play a key role in understanding the four DISC styles. In this guide you’ll learn the basics of each style and how to adopt a practical approach that might impact your effectiveness in the workplace.

What is the D Style?

The dominant (D) style of the DISC behavioural model is results-focused. Those with the D style work quickly and efficiently by themselves, shaping the environment to meet their needs. They have a very direct approach, are assertive, goal-focused, and competitive. This style often displays highly focused management and operational tendencies—matching their desire for control and authority.

Strengths of the “D” Style

People that identify high in the D style are commonly perceived as being direct, decisive, risk-takers, and self-starters. As a result, they are the type who generally prefer leading the group rather than following someone else’s instructions. Overall, those with this style are confident, independent, and competitive. They use their preference for measurable results to influence their decisions, assessing how best they can benefit from the task at hand before using their skills and surroundings to achieve success.

Strengths for the D style may include the following:

  • Strongly driven
  • Independent and determined
  • Competitive
  • Goal-focused

Limitations of the “D” Style

While the dominant style often delivers impressive results, they can also display certain limitations. More often than not, these limitations are a direct result of their competitive and controlling nature. Due to their direct focus on the end goal, the D style will prefer to take individual control of a situation, showing a low tolerance for coworkers’ feelings and opinions if it conflicts with their own. This insensitivity to their surroundings and others can cause conflict if not managed appropriately.

Limitations of the D style may include the following:

  • Can be controlling & domineering
  • Low tolerance for others’ feelings and opinions
  • Impatience
  • Can be perceived as quick to anger

How to approach the “D” style

The D style responds best to those who are concise and avoid generalisations. It is recommended to get straight to the point, avoiding any extensive talk of problems and focusing more on the solutions that may be available.

What is the I Style?

The influence (I) style enjoys expressing their enthusiasm, taking action and encouraging collaboration amongst their colleagues. Naturally, people high in the I quadrant are often enthusiastic, optimistic, and full of energy. They verbalise ideas and concerns to others in the hope of gaining their support and appreciate an opportunity to talk out their ideas as a way to come to a decision or conclusion.

Strengths of the “I” Style

The I style tends to use their enthusiasm and friendly attitude to persuade those around them. They achieve positive results through building alliances and involving the whole team in their activities. They have the talent for stimulating those around them, creating a relaxed environment for group engagement and use their high energy levels to motivate the team.

Strengths for the I style may include the following:

  • Enthusiastic
  • Persuasive attitude
  • Friendly and encouraging
  • Idea formulation

Limitations of the “I” Style

Those with an influence style are often known for getting too involved. They show emotional attachment in situations, often leading to issues if not recognised and managed. Being heavily reliant on their social connections in the workplace, this style will also lose interest if set individual tasks that require low group involvement. Typically, they will have shorter attention spans, needing variety and involvement to maintain their interest. They can become disengaged from the task if their role and expectations of them are not made clear.

Limitations of the I style may include the following:

  •  Emotional Involvement
  • Lack of follow-through
  • Perceived Impatience
  • Can make generalizations without supporting information

How to approach the “I”style

The most efficient way of approaching those with the I style is to be informal and relaxed. You will need to listen to how they feel, keeping the conversation light with the addition of some humour. It’s often found that this style may not pay attention to large amounts of information, so it may be best to make instructions or explanations concise and to the point, engaging them to ensure they have understood.

What is the S Style?

Those who score highly in the Steadiness (S) style tend to be calmer and more patient than any of the other styles. They’re cooperative and friendly, although this may appear a lot less obvious than the I style. As one of the more reserved styles, those showing high levels of Steadiness are very routine-driven and rely on their own resources to complete tasks at hand.

Strengths of the “S” Style

The S style has a great ability to bring stability to any situation. They’re able to provide reassurance to conversations, often bringing a calm and collected atmosphere to those around them. They demonstrate a love for routine and perseverance, greatly enjoying the day-to-day normalities of their job. The S style will try their hardest to follow through with their initial planning—showing their dependable, loyal, and methodical nature in every task. A great team player.

Strengths for the S style may include the following:

  • Methodical approach
  • Routine driven
  • Team player
  • Friendly and supportive nature

Limitations of the “S” Style

Although the S style will appear to be very confident in their methodical approach, they can often have difficulties when speaking up or dealing with signs of conflict. They also do not like to say no and are likely to overaccommodate rather than decline and risk any form of confrontation. They tend to be resistant to change, as they seek to pursue their personal routine, potentially becoming demotivated or even noncompliant if forced to change without good reason.

Limitations of the S style may include the following:

  • Rarely voice emotion or criticism
  • Avoidance of conflict situations
  • Overly accommodating
  • Tend to avoid change

How to approach the “S” style

Providing a safe environment to talk to those with the S style is the best idea. They prefer you to be logical, systematic, and wish to be notified of any upcoming changes as early as possible so that they have time to reflect and adapt. They will greatly appreciate your emphasis on their importance and when you offer sincere appreciation

What is the C Style?

Individuals who sit within the high compliance (C) category are considered to be the most analytical and reserved compared to other styles. They are conscientious when dealing with tasks and are often perfectionists.

Strengths of the “C” Style 

They will always prioritise understanding the details and facts of a task and use their skills and knowledge to deliver high-quality output. Those with the C style are naturally risk-averse. They are driven by facts and logic, so they will need a full understanding before acting to ensure they get the very best outcome in every situation. Accuracy and getting things right is the key driver for this style.

Strengths for the C style may include the following:

  • Eye for detail
  • Problem-solving
  • Accuracy and quality
  • Analytical and logical focus

Limitations of the “C” Style

The C style is known for being highly accurate and knowledge-focused, which means that getting things right and doing a quality job can be more important to them than delivering on time. The C style does have a tendency to overanalyse on occasion and therefore can cause frustration to colleagues with a lesser interest in detail, especially when there is a need to reach a conclusion. Also, as a result of their constant quest for accuracy and perfection, they tend to be much more directly critical than those with the other styles.

Limitations of the C style may include the following:

  • Overly critical
  • More focused on accuracy than deadlines
  • Tendency to overanalyse
  • May isolate themselves from the group

How to approach the “C” style

The C style will need you to be focused and precise with your message. Concentrate on the completeness of your information, ensuring logic and clarity in explaining what is expected of them. Make sure you get their agreement and that they understand the timescales and what support they can call on. You should approach them in an unemotional and reserved way, being prepared to answer all the questions they may have to ensure their concurrence and understanding.

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