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The member who fulfils the leadership role will have both a direct and an indirect effect on the team as a whole. The direct effect is usually clear and easy to identify - it consists of the instructions the leader issues or policies they put in place.

Quite as important, but less simple to distinguish, however, are the leader's indirect effects on their team. These stem not from the leader's actions themselves, but from the ways in which they perform these actions - in other words, from their individual behavioural style.

For example, a common (though by no means universal) trait of leaders is the presence of a measure of Dominance in their individual profiles. In cases where this trait is strongly represented, the leader will tend to take an authoritarian and direct approach to leadership, expecting others to follow their direction on the grounds of their designated role, and their dominating, assertive behavioural style. This necessarily makes the team more Directed (in specific terms of the Discus subfactor of Direction), though its other effects will depend on the precise make-up of the team and other factors of the leader's style.

Because Dominant leaders are common, so is this effect. Other less common leadership styles will also make their impression on the team, though, often in less predictable ways. Consider the DISC factor of Compliance, for example. While by no means as common as Dominance in a leadership role, it does often occur in more technical environments, or in situations where quality is of paramount importance. Compliant leaders will depend on certainty of their position, concentrate on quality and productivity, and prefer a well structured environment. Such a leader will rarely take an authoritative stance, but will prefer to control their team through organisation and planning - we can expect to see them install a procedural and structured regime in order to maintain their authority within the team. Hence, the team as a whole will tend to move towards the more Productive end of the Team Profile spectrum, as they adapt to their leader's approach.

The Discus profiling software is capable of analysing how individuals will react when placed in a management situation, and Discus adapts this technology to examine how a member can be expected to act (in specifically behavioural terms) when appointed as the leader of a team.

The DISC profiling technique gives us a range of tools for analysing an individual's approach to leadership, and Discus takes full advantage of these to describe the team leader's particular approach. There are as many particular leadership styles as there are individual behavioural profiles, and Discus will provide a report for each of these. To illustrate the process, though, we will examine four basic leadership approaches based on the four DISC factors of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.

  • The Director is a leadership style that tends to appear where the leader has a highly Dominant personality. Such a leader has a demanding and impatient leadership style. They rarely tolerate dissension, and act quickly to quell any possible threats (as they will see them) to their leadership position.
  • The Persuader (a style related to profiles showing high Influence) prefers to foster a friendly, open atmosphere, and to build strong relationships with the members of their team. This approach often hides the fact, though, that this style is still an assertive and active one, and will react badly where they believe other members of the team are in some sense taking advantage of their informal style.
  • The Supporter (a style based on high Steadiness) tends to see themselves as providing a service for the team's members, rather than a source of direction. While they understand their responsibilities as a leader, they will typically seek to establish rapport with the members of their team, providing support where circumstances require it, and looking for similar support from their members.
  • The Thinker (which applies to styles showing high Compliance) represents a leader who works through planning and structure. We have already seen how highly Compliant types will attempt to impose authority through procedure and organisation. This is due largely to their desire for certainty - they will wish to know as much as possible about the operations of the team on a day-by-day level.

These four basic styles represent common approaches to the role of leader, and can be viewed as 'building blocks' for the more complex styles that arise with more involved DISC profiles. For example, a profile showing both high Dominance and high Influence will typically display aspects of the Director and the Persuader, often switching between these two styles according to the demands of a situation.

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