Leadership:
How Personality Affects Different Leadership Styles

There are as many different leadership styles as there are business owners because individual personality traits and temperaments are clearly going to impact how you relate to others and therefore how you operate as a leader.

Even though everyone is individual and has their own unique style, we can broadly categorize personality types.

The DISC assessment is one tool that can provide useful insights into the kind of boss you may be and how your employees may perceive you as a leader.

It differentiates people according to two axes 1) how people or task oriented you are and 2) how 'active' you are.  

From these categories we can make a few assumptions about your relative strengths and weaknesses as a boss:

'I' types

Richard Branson would be a typical a ‘I’ boss. If your personality tends towards an ‘I’, your team will probably perceive you as being fun, creative and inspirational to work for because you’re so people-oriented.

On the downside however, they may get frustrated with your lack of focus. Your more task-oriented employees will probably perceive you as being disorganized, possibly even chaotic. And, because they like to get the job done, they will be frustrated by the fact that you struggle to get tasks or projects completed.  

Knowing that details and follow-through are not your strong points, make sure you employ at least one ‘C’ type who will complement your weaknesses by handling the details, getting the job done and maintaining high standards.

'D' types

Donald Trump would be a typical high ‘D’ character, strong on authority but perhaps lacking in diplomacy and tact.

‘Ds’ are very active and result-oriented so they get a lot done but if your personality tends towards this category, it’s likely that your employees could perceive you as a domineering, controlling and impatient boss.

To improve your leadership skills, focus on listening to your team and taking their ideas on board instead of rushing into decisions that could lead to mistakes.

If you find yourself getting impatient or annoyed with staff that aren’t doing things the way you want to, it’s probably an indicator that you need to spend more time coaching them.

‘D’ business owners need to remember that you can’t do it all alone and that all strong teams benefit from a diverse range of personality types.

'C' types

If you’re a ‘C’ business owner you probably resemble Bill Gates in terms of your leadership style. Of the different leadership styles, these leaders like to get things ‘done right’ so their focus is on details, standards and sticking to procedures.

As a boss you will probably be respected for being thorough and accurate and noticing things that other people miss.

However, your more people-oriented employees will probably struggle with your nit-picking and micro-managing and not find you particularly inspirational. This is especially the case if you allow yourself to get too bogged down in details and avoid making decisions because of ‘perfection paralysis’.

‘C’ types need to remind themselves and their team of the bigger picture or vision for the business and also try and be more open to new ideas and change.

'S' types

‘S’ types are people-oriented and because of their relaxed and patient demeanour, tend to create a fairly harmonious team environment and are likely to be perceived as easy to work for.

Of the different leadership styles, your willingness to gain input from other team members and share authority is a strong point since it will allow employees to feel involved. This will likely have a positive affect on motivation. 

On the downside, ‘S’ types take while to process decisions so while they may be perceived as a steady leader, some of your more active type employees may feel frustrated by your perceived procrastination on making changes.

‘S’ types also tend to struggle with time management and determining priorities, which can be confusing for employees who want and need clear direction.

If you’re feeling challenged by any particular employees, it would most likely be ‘D’ types who can be argumentative and like to get things done. They may perceive you as being ‘nice’ but indecisive and complacent.

Business Coaching Questions:

  • Which of these different leadership styles are you?
  • What are your weaknesses as a boss?
  • What DISC types do you need to have around you to complement your weaknesses?

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