DiSC® - Understanding the Dominant (D) Style

Posted by Bill Harshman on

In today’s DiSC® lesson, we will discuss a deeper and broader understanding of the D (or Dominant / Dominance) style.  This will be helpful whether it is YOU who are a D style, or if it is someone else with whom you deal that is a D style.  Furthermore, AS a D, this will help you interact with another D.

Before we dive deeper, I have always encouraged learners to maintain a couple important pieces of baseline knowledge. These two pieces are critical to understanding DiSC®.  (This is especially for first-time readers of my blogs)

First are the Cornerstone Principles that we’ve discussed before:

  • All DiSC®styles are equally valuable
  • Everyone is a unique blend of all DiSC®styles, and people tend toward one or two styles
  • Your unique style is also influenced by other factors such as life experiences, education, and maturity

Second is the Basic DiSC® Styles Model:

 Basic DiSC Styles Model

 A person’s DiSC® style is decided by the intersection of two dimensions of observable behaviors (including body language, tone of voice, expression, and word choice):

The vertical dimension is known as PACE (or outward activity level) described as either Fast-paced & Outspoken OR Cautious & Reflective.  The horizontal dimension is known as your AGREEABLENESS quotient.  This means those who are “less agreeable” place a lower PRIORITY (concern) for cooperation and social harmony, and we refer to them as “Questioning & Skeptical” on the left end of this dimension.  A general term for them might be result-focused.  Those who are “more agreeable” place a higher PRIORITY on cooperation and social harmony and we refer to them as “Accepting & Warm” on the right end of this dimension.  A general term for them might be people-focused.

*It is the interaction between these TWO continua which forms the 4 quadrants (or basic styles) of the DiSC® model, AND by which you identify a person’s DiSC® style.

I want to start with a definition of Dominance that we are likely familiar with to help calibrate the reader and provide a common baseline of understanding as we proceed.  Oxford defines Dominance as follows:  (of a person) the power to have an effect on people or things, or a person or thing that is able to do this.

I’d say that’s a pretty good starting point from our daily lives.  And for other words that may appeal to you, we go to the thesaurus:

  • control
  • domination
  • influence
  • power
  • preeminence
  • rule
  • sovereignty
  • ascendancy

DiSC® will provide much more interpretation and meaning to this style label we call Dominant / Dominance.

Let’s look at an overview of the D style.  We already know the two continua which indicate a D style.  Now, lets see more descriptors which will help us understand better.

 PACE: Fast-paced / Outspoken

AGREEABLENESSQuestioning / Skeptical (result-focused)

  •  Priorities include: Getting immediate results, taking action, challenging self & others.  Motto?  “Do it now”
  • Motivated by: Power & authority, competition, winning, success
  • Fears: Loss of control, being taken advantage of, vulnerability
  • Other descriptors: Direct, Firm, Strong-willed, Forceful, Result-focused
  • Limitations: Lack of concern for others, impatience, insensitivity

 Here is an excerpt from an actual DiSC® Profile report.

You are described as driven, with a high need for variety and to keep moving forward.  You may emphasize results over process or people.  Your directness can be perceived as irritation, and you may even find it tiring to meet people’s emotional needs.

You probably like to be in charge, especially when you feel that others are not competent.  However, don’t forget that your drive, boldness, and challenging nature are seen and admired by many.

Diving further into understanding a style, we need to look beyond simply observable behavior.  Wiley research identifies that each style also has core needs. 

The core needs of a D include: 

  • Considering themselves strong enough to shape their own world,
  • Controlling the factors that influence their fate (successes and failures),
  • Being first, being on top (to win), and
  • Making progress and always moving forward.

Your strengths as a D co-worker MAY include:

  • Working at a faster pace
  • Keeping the team focused and on task
  • Making decisions when others cannot
  • Confronting tough issues or situations
  • Accepting change as a personal challenge

Your limitations as a D co-worker MAY include:

  • Coming across as unapproachable
  • Insensitivity to others
  • Impatience with others
  • Moving the team before it is ready

 As a D you can improve effectiveness by:

  • Developing more patience
  • Toning down directness and asking more questions
  • Awareness of body language, tone of voice, expression, and word choice so you seem more approachable and encouraging in your conversations


There’s much more to discover by taking the DiSC® Profile.  In future lessons, we’ll learn about:

  • Motivators & Stressors
  • How to connect with all 4 styles
  • Solving Problems with other styles
  • Dealing with tension between styles
  • Three key strategies to deal with ALL types

I hope this overview increased your awareness, knowledge, and familiarity of DiSC®.  Whether your needs include Onboarding, Employee Engagement, Culture Change, Conflict Management, Team Building, or simply Communication, DiSC® is the research-based, proven, leading training solution.

As ALWAYS, the key to effectiveness through DiSC® is understanding your and others’ styles and then using that knowledge for improved interactions.

If you would like a live, complimentary webinar (online) for your team or organization, please send an email to info@traininglocation.com.  If you’d like to purchase the DiSC®, visit  DiSC® Classic or Everything DiSC® at our website.  And, check out our products from The Ken Blanchard Companies as well.

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