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The Four Leadership Styles

Ever wondered why you struggle to communicate effectively with certain individuals at work? It could be because you have different leadership styles...

There are four known styles of leadership which individuals predominantly exhibit. These four styles are the Dominant Style, Influential Style, Steady Style and the Compliant Style/Conscientious Style. While there will be one key style people mainly embody, everyone will possess certain characteristics from all styles.

Understanding these four key leadership styles can provide valuable insights into how people prefer to think, act, and behave. By recognising these styles, you can develop more effective strategies for dealing with different individuals and become a better leader overall. It’s important to note that one style is not better than the other.

Let’s look at the characteristics of the Four Leadership Styles:

Dominant (D) Leadership Style:

People who resonate with the Dominant Leadership Style, are dynamic leaders who push themselves and their team to achieve ambitious goals. They thrive on variety and bold action, always eager to seize new opportunities. Dominant leaders prefer to set their own course and policies or procedures that hinder creativity frustrate them. Their charismatic and self-confident nature enables them to rally others effortlessly, but they may need to be mindful of becoming overly combative under pressure. The most valuable contributions dominant leaders offer include their pioneering attitude, commanding presence, and ability to energise people.

Influential (I) Leadership Style:

Influential leaders thrive on building personal connections and engaging with others. Their energetic and optimistic nature makes it easy to rally people around their ideas and goals. They enjoy creating a positive work environment and excel at promoting their vision with passion. However, their impetuous and talkative nature may need to be balanced to ensure they’re not overwhelming those who are more analytical. Their most valuable contributions as a leader include the ability to energise others, having a pioneering attitude, and affirming nature.

Steady (S) Leadership Style:

Those who lean towards the Steady Leadership Style are consistent and reliable leaders. Patience and working at a methodical pace are their strengths, and they excel at long-term, routine projects. They strive to create stability and security for the team and appreciate well-defined procedures. While they avoid risk and thoroughly analyse decisions, they need to be open to innovative ideas that can improve effectiveness. A Steady Leader’s humility, inclusiveness, deliberate nature makes them a valuable leader who can be counted on.

Compliant/Conscientious (C) Leadership Style:

Compliant leaders, value precision and attention to detail. They prefer to work at a methodical pace and take time to process information carefully. They strive for perfection and are not afraid to double-check their own work to avoid criticism. While they tend to be reserved and diplomatic in communication, it’s essential they balance caution with openness to new ideas. Their humility, inclusiveness, and fair-mindedness make them a leader who fosters harmony within the team.

How Different Styles Clash

While these styles bring valuable perspectives and strengths, they can also create challenges when leaders with different styles interact. Understanding the potential clashes between leadership styles can help mitigate conflicts, enhance collaboration, and foster a more harmonious work environment. Let’s explore how each leadership style may face difficulties when interacting with another style.

Dominant (D) vs. Steady (S):

Dominant leaders, driven by results and a fast pace, may clash with Steady leaders who prioritise stability and a methodical work approach. D leaders may find S leaders too slow or resistant to change, while S leaders may perceive D leaders as pushy or dismissive of their cautious nature. To overcome this challenge, open communication and compromise are key. D leaders can learn to appreciate the importance of stability, while S leaders can adapt to some level of urgency and embrace calculated risks.

Influential (I) vs. Compliant (C):

Influential leaders, known for their enthusiasm and focus on people, may encounter difficulties when collaborating with Compliant leaders who prioritise rules and procedures. I leaders may view C leaders as too rigid and stifling, while C leaders may perceive I leaders as impulsive or not detail-oriented enough. Building understanding and finding common ground are crucial in resolving these conflicts. I leaders can learn to appreciate the importance of structure, while C leaders can embrace flexibility and adaptability.

Dominant (D) vs. Influential (I):

The clash between Dominant and Influential leaders often arises due to their differing priorities. D leaders are results-oriented, while I leaders focus on building relationships. D leaders may find I leaders too talkative or lacking in discipline, while I leaders may perceive D leaders as overly aggressive or insensitive to personal connections. Bridging this gap requires mutual respect and a balance between task and relationship aspects. D leaders can value collaboration and relationship-building, while I leaders can acknowledge the need for focussed action and clear goals.

Steady (S) vs. Compliant (C):

Steady and Compliant leaders, both detail-oriented and cautious, may face challenges when collaborating. S leaders, who value stability and teamwork, may see C leaders as overly critical or sceptical. On the other hand, C leaders may view S leaders as too focussed on harmony, potentially avoiding necessary conflict or change. By fostering open communication and embracing a growth mindset, S leaders can benefit from C leaders’ attention to accuracy, while C leaders can appreciate S leaders’ ability to create a supportive and collaborative work environment.

The Four Leadership Styles

Embracing Your Leadership Style

Understanding the four leadership personality styles and their corresponding traits is key to effective leadership. By recognising your own style and adapting to others, you can bridge communication gaps and build stronger relationships. Embrace your unique strengths, whether Dominant, Influential, Steady, or Compliant, and leverage them to inspire those around you.

While clashes between leadership styles are inevitable, they can be overcome. Embracing the diversity of styles allows us to utilise the strengths of other styles to overcome communication barriers. Leaders can learn from each other, incorporating patience and methodical approaches from steadiness or attention to detail from compliance. Being open-minded fosters collaboration, innovation, and better outcomes.

These four leadership styles come from the DiSC® personality assessment. DiSC® is a world-leading personality assessment known for transforming workplaces by improving teamwork, communication and productivity. The DISC® assessment determines your position within the DiSC® model which is divided into four main personality profiles (D)ominance, (I)nfluence, (S)teadiness, (C)onscientiousness. A DiSC profile assessment can be completed as a stand alone activity or can be included in a broader leadership or culture change program.  

Do you want to take the first steps to discover your leadership style? Fill out the form below to receive your free Leadership Style Questionnaire.

Leadership Style Questionnaire