How to Develop Leaders with the DiSC Leadership Assessment

November 20, 2023 by Rebecca Ahn

There are many personality instruments that make it easy for people to understand who they are and how they work better. We believe the DiSC assessment model is the best for career and leadership development, talent redeployment, and outplacement. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll show you how to utilize the DiSC leadership assessment to strengthen the leadership in your organization. We will cover:

  • What the DiSC leadership assessment is
  • The DiSC assessment leadership styles and dimensions
  • How to use the DiSC assessment for leadership development
  • Challenges to watch out for and how to address them
  • The benefits of outsourcing your DiSC leadership assessment

What is DiSC Leadership Assessment?

The DiSC leadership assessment is a personal assessment tool used by more than one million people every year to help improve teamwork, communication, and productivity in the workplace. Individuals are given a series of questions that usually take no more than 20 minutes to answer. Based on their answers, they are then assigned a main personality type and secondary personality characteristics. 

The DiSC behavioral model was first outlined by William Moulton Marston, a physiological psychologist and Harvard Ph.D. (and the creator of Wonder Woman), in his 1928 book, Emotions of Normal People. Marston believed that understanding your primary behavioral trait would help you understand and manage your experiences, and foster better relationships. In the following decades, others have built on Marston’s theories to develop similar assessments, eventually leading to the modern DiSC leadership assessment we have today. 

What is the DiSC Acronym for Leadership?

DiSC is an acronym that stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Everyone is a mixture of these four, but most people tend to fall into one or two main DiSC style quadrants.

This assessment provides insights into people’s personalities and helps to determine their primary leadership dimension and identify areas for development. Unlike such other assessments as the Myers-Briggs, StrengthFinder, and Birkman, the DiSC leadership assessment can be useful in helping people make informed career and workplace decisions, as well as identify and develop areas of weakness that could hold them back in their career development.

The DiSC assessment also measures the values you prioritize. This provides a wealth of information about each person’s workplace priorities and preferences. In turn, people can also learn how to better connect with colleagues whose priorities and preferences differ from theirs. 

Each of these four DiSC styles is valuable to have in your workforce, and understanding everyone’s strengths and weaknesses across these four styles can help you identify where–in what roles, levels, and specialties–they will be the most impactful and productive in your organization. 

What Are the DiSC Workplace Dimensions?

Below is a diagram of the four workplace dimensions in the DiSC leadership assessment, along with the traits commonly associated with each of them. 

How to Use DiSC Assessment for Leadership

The DiSC leadership assessment can help you hire and develop better leaders for your business. It can be extremely valuable for leadership development of emerging, new, and experienced leaders alike.

Not only does the DiSC leadership assessment provide insight into a manager’s direct reports, helping the manager to better structure and support their teams, and guide them to success. It can also make leaders more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, helping them build on their skills and manage their limitations more effectively. 

Knowing your DiSC profile allows you to build on and harness your behavioral strengths and develop workplace behaviors that cause you stress. The most successful people today typically have a strong self awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and possess strong emotional intelligence of others.

Likewise, knowing your DiSC profile also allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the workplace. Learning about other people’s personality styles can help you understand their priorities and how they may differ from your own.

So utilizing the DiSC assessment for leadership in your organization can help your managers learn where their leadership styles fall, which will help them to adapt their communication approach to best utilize their DISC strengths as well as align with the strengths and styles of the people they work with.

Now that you have a better understanding of the DiSC leadership assessment, start to think about the DiSC dimensions and where you fit based on your own self assessment. Also think about your managers and coworkers and where they might fall in the DiSC dimensions. Consider how your awareness of their styles could allow you to be more effective in working with those individuals. This will take knowing yourself and your colleagues to a whole new level.

What DiSC Style is Best for Leadership?

Now let’s talk about the best DiSC assessment leadership qualities to look for in your staff, both those already at the leadership level and any individual contributors who may have the potential to become new managers. 

For example, someone with Dominance–or the D personality type–is more likely to consider themselves a natural leader and aspire for leadership level roles. They are usually more inclined to see the big picture, make strategic decisions, and take on risks if they think the payoff will be worth it. They tend to be confident, direct, driven, and place more emphasis on accomplishing bottom-line results.

That said, the other three DiSC personality types can prove equally as valuable in leadership positions. 

A leader who identifies with Influence–or I personality types–is likely to be more open and place a greater emphasis on relationships and influencing or persuading others. These folks place more value on openness, friendship, and building relationships. They are often warm, enthusiastic, collaborative, and enjoy encouraging others. 

Someone exhibiting Steadiness–or S personality types–tend to be very dependable and place a large emphasis on cooperation and sincerity. They prefer to work with others in the existing circumstances to get things done. This means valuing cooperation, dependability, consistency, and humility. They tend to be very patient, calm, inclusive, and affirming, all of which are valuable traits to have in a manager. 

Lastly, managers with Conscientiousness (or Compliance as it was originally designated)–the C personality types–often place a greater emphasis on exactness, expertise, and competency. They can also work well within existing circumstances, but with a bias for quality and accuracy. These types of leaders are generally very analytical, systematic, diplomatic, and tactful. This can also manifest as careful and cautious, which can be a helpful trait for balancing out the more action-oriented personality types. 

DiSC Assessment Difficulties to Watch Out For

While this DiSC leadership assessment sounds like a fairly straightforward test, implementing it with your workforce can present some challenges. These are important for your leadership team to watch out for, and be prepared to address with your staff in the most open and forthcoming way possible.

How Do I Pass the DiSC Assessment Test?

You may discover that your staff are worried about how to pass the DiSC assessment test. But the important thing to remember is that you cannot fail this test. There are no right or wrong answers to any of the questions. No practice is needed. The answers are unique to each person and dependent on their honest self-assessment. 

Essentially, the only way to “fail” the DiSC leadership assessment is to lie, which will only harm their chances of professional success by yielding inaccurate results and negatively impacting their talent development support from their organization.

Be sure to make this clear for everyone on your staff who is taking the DiSC leadership assessment, and remain open to them for any questions or concerns they may have throughout the process. 

What Do Employers Look for in a DiSC Assessment?

A similar concern that employees may have in completing the DiSC leadership assessment is how employers will use the information it yields and what results they should try to get in order to benefit their career growth. 

Once again, honest answers are vital to productive results that benefit everyone in the organization. So it’s important that you refrain from emphasizing or favoring one DiSC style over another, or even be perceived to be doing so with your staff. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses, and all are equally valuable to have in every level of your organization. 

What’s more, people are adaptable and can perform well in roles that might seem against their type. So their DiSC assessment results need not be the final word on where their potential lies in your organization. It is simply one valuable piece of the bigger puzzle. 

To help address this, leaders and hiring managers in your organization may want to take the DiSC assessment themselves to become aware of what their own biases might be. People naturally respond well to people most like themselves, and can unconsciously show preference in that direction. But hiring and talent development should always be conducted with an aim for diversity, not conformity.

Oversimplifying Someone’s DiSC Assessment Results

In a similar vein, it’s important not to oversimplify or stereotype someone’s personality style based on their DiSC leadership assessment results. 

Also try to avoid prematurely guessing the DiSC types of your staff before you’ve conducted the actual assessment and have the results in hand. It’s natural to want to use this model to better understand and work with the people around you, but making such a hasty judgment can prove incorrect and even hurtful. As we said earlier, people adapt to their environments–and vice versa–and can present as one type when their assessment may reveal they better fit into another.

So the way to address this is to ensure everyone in your organization is remaining open before, during, and even after learning the results of one another’s DiSC leadership assessments. The DiSC assessment should be used to spark conversations about what motivates each individual, and how you can all better communicate and work together to achieve success for both the business as a whole and each employee’s professional growth.

Outsourcing Your DiSC Leadership Assessment

When exploring how to best incorporate the DiSC leadership assessment into your organization’s talent development strategy, consider hiring an outside expert to oversee the assessment for you and your staff. They can provide an unbiased perspective in the process of conducting the assessments, coaching your staff through reviewing the results, and working with you to design and implement a leadership development strategy from that.

The alternative is asking your staff to take one of the free assessments available online. However, the type of DiSC leadership assessment a specialized company can offer will be much more extensive. Besides the basic information of someone’s DiSC personality type, this more robust assessment can include scoring for your employees across each DiSC dimension to provide a broader and deeper view into their personality strengths and weaknesses, personalized strategies based on each employee’s unique results, as well as insights into their opposite DiSC types and how to best approach those. 

Here at Careerminds, we include the DiSC leadership assessment as part of our packages in leadership coaching and executive coaching. Our approach is designed to empower your leaders to harness their strengths, unlock greater efficiency and effectiveness, and align their career aspirations with their values. We believe that the more information you have at your disposal, the better equipped you and your employees will be to make smart, strategic decisions that drive positive results for your entire organization. 

DiSC Leadership Assessment: Final Takeaways

Knowing yourself is defined as having a clear perception of your personality and work style, including your strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. This is the first step to becoming more effective at working with others.

 The DiSC leadership assessment is designed to help you and every member of your organization to gain insight into all of these areas of themselves and one another, and learn how to better perform as individuals and as a team. It’s especially valuable for managers of all levels to strengthen their leadership skills, which in turn helps strengthen the greater organization. 

Thousands of organizations around the world already use the DiSC assessment for leadership and talent development, from government agencies and Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits and small businesses. There are significant benefits to hiring outside experts to coach your organization through the process and go over the assessment results with your employees. 

If you are interested in learning more about our leadership coaching and development services at Careerminds, click below to speak with our experts and find out if we are a fit for your business needs.
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Rebecca Ahn

Rebecca Ahn

Rebecca is a writer, editor, and business consultant with over 10 years of experience launching, managing, and coaching small to midsize companies on their business, marketing, and HR operations. She is a passionate people advocate who believes in building strong people, teams, and companies with empowering culture, content, and communication that facilitates meaningful results at every level and touchpoint. In her spare time, Rebecca is an avid traveler and nomad who also enjoys writing about travel safety and savvy. Learn more on her LinkedIn page.

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