Among our most important beliefs are those we hold about ourselves. We are all, in essence, leading ourselves daily through the goals we set and the actions we take. When we fail to lead ourselves well,  we will find it difficult to earn the right to lead others. Hence, the long-held, sage advice to “lead by example.”

Living in a way that’s inconsistent with your true nature will create a life of frustration, stress and disappointment. You must instead, learn to embrace your deepest needs, desires, strengths, fears, values and beliefs. Doing so helps to create harmony in your life, tap into your tremendous potential. It also sets an example to inspire others to live up to their highest potentials.

Let’s use a comparison to dog sledding here. As the leader of the pack, you only win the race when you have the right dogs leading the pack. The only way to get the right dogs in the lead is to understand the personalities of each dog on the team. Then, you can place each in the right role. In business, once the right team members are all in place, you can then step up as the leader to guide and encourage them to move the business forward.

The skill of the leader often determines the performance of the team. Although any leader may “bark” from time to time, it is the strong, calm and confident leader who is best at getting a team to follow the projected course.  

Leadership starts with knowing yourself. A strong leader is one who first learns about themselves. They learn what they are good at, and what they are not, and act accordingly. They seek out others who have strong skills in their weak areas and learn from them. They work to develop their own strengths as they would expect others to do.

The best leaders also recognize their styles of leadership and know what a job or task requires. Then, they do it! That means you not only need to understand who you are but to understand how to work well with others. This includes all of the personality styles in all sorts of situations.

Whether you’re a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a small business owner on the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, leadership is about creating and sustaining positive, lasting change in your life and the lives of the people around you. We all have opportunities to be leaders at some point in our lives.

To be the best leader, the one that is remembered and imitated, answer the following questions:
1. What type of leader are you?
2. Who are you?
3. What will you do today to improve?

What type of leader are you?

If you’re a HIGH ‘D’ DOMINANCE STYLE…    

Ratchet down a notch or two! Keep in mind that others have feelings and that your hard-charging, know-it-all style can make your subordinates feel inadequate and often resentful.

Accept that mistakes will occur, and try to temper justice with mercy. You might even joke about errors you make, rather than trying to always project a super-human image.

High ‘D’ Dominance Styles can encourage growth in others in at least two ways:

  1. By praising others when they do something well.
  2. By giving others some authority and then staying out of their way so they can use it. Whatever you lose in control, you’re likely to gain in commitment and improved staff competency.

Try not to be quite so bossy! Ask others’ opinions and maybe–though this is radical for a High ‘D’ Dominance Style—even plan some collaborative actions.

If you’re a HIGH ‘I’ INFLUENCING STYLE…

Your people depend on you not just for ideas, but for coordination, too.

So anything you can do to become more organized—making lists, keeping your calendar current, prioritizing goals—will pay big dividends for you and them.

Nothing’s so dispiriting as to see the boss drop the ball on important matters.

So, remember: If you fail to follow-up, procrastinate on tough decisions, or make pledges you don’t keep, your employees will lose faith. Even though you don’t do those things purposely, they’ll see you as letting them down. Your charm and warmth can’t fully compensate for unreliability.

Also, come to grips with the fact that conflicts are going to occur. Try to deal with them up front, not sweep them under the rug. In addition, organize your time better and keep your socializing in balance with your tasks.

If you’re a HIGH ‘S’ STEADINESS STYLE…

You’re probably a well-liked boss. Your goal should be to become a more effective, well-liked boss.

Learn to stretch a little, taking on more, or different, duties and trying to accomplish them more quickly. You may want to be more assertive as well as more open about your thoughts and feelings.

Experiment with a little risk, a little change.

Being sensitive to your employees’ feelings is one of your greatest strengths. But you must seek a middle ground between that and being knocked off balance by the first negative comment or action that comes your way.

If you’re a HIGH ‘C’ CONSCIENTIOUS STYLE…

Your high standards are a two-edged sword. Your employees are inspired by your quest for excellence, but often they feel frustrated because they can never quite seem to please you.

One of the best things you can do is lessen and soften your criticism, spoken or unspoken. You can seem so stern sometimes!

Ease up on your need to control. Walk around and spend more time with the troops, chatting up people at the water cooler or in the lunchroom.

Wake up to the fact that you can have high standards without requiring perfection in each instance. That’ll take a load off your shoulders–and off your employees, too.

Whatever your style, being adaptable can help you to build bridges to your employees and make them feel valued. By learning to best respond to their interests and concerns, their strengths and weaknesses, you can get the most from your people as well as leave them more satisfied.

Regardless of your leadership style, if you lack self-awareness, you will not be effective. It’s your obligation to have a clear understanding of the impact you are having on the people around you. If you don’t understand what motivates your actions and behaviors, it’s difficult to cultivate positive growth that gets results.

Who are you?

On your journey toward becoming a better leader and discovering what drives you, it’s important to identify what may be holding you back from success, as well as the traits, motivators and behaviors that propel you forward.

The first step of your journey is seeking a better understanding of your personality style.

You must learn how to leverage the various aspects of your personality for a life of achievement that aligns with your personal values. Know where your natural inclinations lie and then use this knowledge to boost those inclinations or compensate for them.

There are four behavioral preferences, that are the four basic personality styles:

  • Dominance Style
  • Influence Style
  • Steadiness Style
  • Conscientious Style
DISC Assessment

Everyone possesses the qualities of each DISC style to various degrees and everyone has a primary style. For the sake of simplicity, we will focus only on primary styles.

Dominance Styles

Dominance Styles are driven by two governing needs: to control and achieve.

Dominance Styles are goal-oriented go-getters who are most comfortable when they are in charge of people and situations.

Are you a person who wants to accomplish many things now? You focus on no-nonsense approaches to bottom-line results? Do you seek expedience and are not afraid to bend the rules?

If you answered yes to the above, you probably also figure it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask permission.

As a Dominant Style you accept challenges, take authority, and plunge head first into solving problems. You are fast-paced, task-oriented, and work quickly and impressively by themselves, which means you become annoyed with delays.

You are driven and dominating, which can make you stubborn, impatient, and insensitive to others.

As a Dominant Style, you are so focused that you forget to take the time to smell the roses.

Influence Styles

Influence Styles are friendly, enthusiastic people who like to be where the action is. They thrive on the admiration, acknowledgment and compliments that come with being in the limelight. Their primary strengths are enthusiasm, charm, persuasiveness and warmth.

Are you that idea-person, who is considered a dreamer? Do you excel at getting others excited about their vision? Are you that person who is the eternal optimist with an abundance of charisma?

These qualities help you influence people and build alliances to accomplish your goals.

As an Interactive Style, you do have weaknesses:

  • impatience
  • an aversion to being alone
  • a short attention span.

As an Interactive Styles of personality you are a risk-taker who bases many of your decisions on intuition, which is not inherently bad. You are not inclined to verify information; you are more likely to assume someone else will do it.

Steadiness Styles

Steadiness Styles are warm and nurturing individuals. They are the most people-oriented of the four styles.

Are you considered an excellent listener? A devoted friend and loyal employee? Do you have a relaxed disposition that makes you approachable and others consider you to be warm?

If you answered yes to these questions then you probably have a primary style of Steadiness. You are that person that develops strong networks of people who are willing to be mutually supportive and reliable. You are an excellent team player.

Steadiness Styles are risk-averse. In fact, you may tolerate unpleasant environments rather than risk change. You like the status quo and become distressed when disruptions are severe. When faced with change, you think it through, plan, and accept it into their world.

You are more than the other types-strive to maintain personal composure, stability, and balance as a Steadiness Style of personality.

In the office, you are courteous, friendly and willing to share responsibilities.

Steadiness Styles are considered good planners, persistent workers and good with follow-through. They go along with others even when they do not agree because they do not want to rock the boat.

Steadiness Styles are slower decision-makers because of their need for security, their need to avoid risk and their desire to include others in the decision-making process.

Conscientious Styles

Conscientious Styles are analytical, persistent, systematic people who enjoy problem solving. Conscientious Styles are detail-oriented, which makes them more concerned with content than style.

Conscientious Styles are task-oriented people who enjoy perfecting processes and working toward tangible results. They are always in control of their emotions and may become uncomfortable around people who are very outgoing, e.g., Influence Styles.

Do you have high expectations of yourself and others? Are you over-critical? A perfectionist?Do you often suffer from “paralysis by over-analysis?”

You are slow and a deliberate decision-maker. As a Conscientious Style of personality you do research, make comparisons, determine risks, calculate margins of error, and then take action. You become irritated by surprises and glitches, hence their cautious decision-making.

As a Conscientious Style you are also skeptical, so you like to see promises in writing.

Leaders become great not because of their power but, because of their ability to understand themselves so they have the confidence to empower others. If you fail to lead yourself well, at some point, you will forfeit the right to lead others. Everyone is not a leader, but anyone can be.

What will you do today to improve? Take my DISC assessment and get an in-depth report about you, your personality style and better understand your most powerful behavioral drivers, and how to harness them for ultimate achievement.