Team & Systems

Diving into DiSC: the Dominant D

In my previous article on behavioral interviewing, I discussed the DiSC assessment’s use when evaluating job applicants. But how we leverage the results doesn’t stop there. In fact, this is an integral part of our company’s DNA, and we use the information daily.

We recently transitioned to a virtual office, but when we had a physical location, we kept a copy of everyone’s assessment results in the breakroom. We encouraged our team members to pick up and read through a coworker’s assessment whenever they had a few minutes. We don’t treat the results as a big secret. In fact, we find the more we know each other, the more effectively our team operates.

Each of the four primary personality types is critical in an organization. I’ve found organizations make two fundamental mistakes when dealing with personnel: they either have an unbalanced makeup of people, or they put people in the wrong roles, hiring for skills and knowledge rather than personality and behavior.

I want to help you avoid these problems, so we’re going to dive into each of the personality profiles and explore them. Let’s start with D.

Strengths and weaknesses

The “D” in DiSC stands for “Dominance.” These individuals tend to be decisive, tough and strong-willed. They see the big picture, love accepting challenges, thrive on taking action and are usually capable of achieving results very quickly.

People with this personality type focus on the shortest distance between where they are and where they need to go. Anything standing between these two points is considered an obstacle, and Ds have no problem overcoming obstacles.

Ds are great at getting the results you want, but when the obstruction is another person, particularly if the individual is someone else on your team, there can be conflict.

Because Ds tend to be so blunt, they often clash with other people who feel like they’re being run over. Dominant people don’t shy away from conflict. If they aren’t self-aware and willing to admit when they’re wrong, they may suffer from perpetual strife in some interpersonal relationships.

Mentoring D personality types

Your D employees value strength and usually fear being seen as vulnerable or having someone take advantage of them. They often have a tough shell to crack, and you’ll need to make consistent, repeated effort before they begin to open up to you.

Gain their respect by showing you’re competent and earn their trust by backing them up when they’re right. If you’re consistent in these actions, they’ll eventually let you in.

You’ll find Ds can be incredibly malleable if you take the time to earn their trust and respect. Don’t be afraid to tell them they’re wrong about something. When you do, use facts. Avoid being emotional. Tell them precisely where they screwed up, and let them know what they should do differently next time.

D types can be perceived as impatient, insensitive and closed-minded. They often need mentoring to recognize they aren’t one-person shows and that they need the other members of the team.

As you develop your D employees, always frame feedback from the perspective of helping them get results. Molding an effective team makes them more efficient at achieving objectives quickly and completely. When they understand this, they’ll often actively seek opportunities to develop their interpersonal skills.

Where to place a D in an organization

Ds thrive on autonomy and have no trouble being evaluated by the results they produce. CEO ranks are disproportionately filled with people whose primary personality is a D. Using them as project managers, directors of independent units and event coordinators maximizes their strengths, and you’ll see positive results very quickly.

Don’t put them in positions where their primary responsibility is dealing with other people’s personal problems, particularly if they’re not individually empowered to resolve the complaints. Human resources, for example, is an area much better suited for one of the other personality types. Customer service roles are also a poor fit and can quickly cause a D to become brusque.

If you have a supervisor who micromanages, avoid placing Ds under them at all costs. If you don’t, expect a poor working relationship, a significant amount of conflict and a high likelihood one of them will eventually leave your company.

Communicating with a D

When you’re interacting with someone who is a D, give them the bottom line up front. Tell them exactly what they need to know, then fill in the critical details. Keep the discussion brief. These individuals thrive on being concise and specific, so avoid generalizing and specifically focus the discussion.

Dominant individuals don’t mind hearing about problems, but since Ds are so focused on solutions, they want you to come prepared to offer one. Approaching a D with an issue and not recommending some kind of solution may be a recipe for being dismissed.

The foundation of your team

Companies often start with a D: someone who has a vision for the future, sees the big picture and drives for results. I’m primarily a D myself, and understanding how this type of personality operates has been very eye-opening. I’ve been able to intentionally nurture and maximize my strengths, while slowly and consistently overcoming my weaknesses.

Knowing and understanding your personality type and the personality types of those you work with could be a game-changer for your business. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you and your team take the DiSC assessment. Doing so will give you insights to make your organization have more productivity and less conflict.

About the Author


Justin Livingston is a Master when it comes to building a global audience for your Transformation Business.

He’s worked as a primary consultant behind the scenes of some of the largest personal development companies in the world, and currently coaches many of the Biggest Leaders in the Transformation Industry.

His client list includes Bill Baren, T. Harv Eker, Christian Mickelsen, Callan Rush, Sharla Jacobs, Eben Pagan, Ryan Eliason, Melinda Cohan, Kate Steinbacher, Rich German, Milana Leshinsky, Jeanna Gabellini, Vrinda Normand, Ted McGrath, Elizabeth Purvis … and so many more!!

Leave us a comment