C Style Boss

Dealing with Difficult Bosses: The Overcautious Boss

Every organization thrives when a culture of information sharing exists. When information is lacking, frustration sets in as employees begin feeling out of the loop and ill-informed. They generally look to leadership to provide answers when things seem unclear, or when there are issues requiring decisions  affecting both people and processes. For most bosses, decision-making is a process where information is gathered, analyzed, and then acted upon or even delegated. Some people can quickly sift through massive amounts of data and gain insight to make a confident, informed decision. Others require time to take a more critical look at information, process what they understand, seek clarity for things they do not understand, and then confer with others before making a final decision. The latter can take time, causing delays for others waiting for a decision before moving on to their next task. Those less tolerant of the data-driven, slower-paced leadership style will often characterize their boss as “difficult.”

Our goal today is to learn about the Conscientious style or “C” style boss.

Who is the “C” Style?

The “C” styles represent a significant part of the DISC styles at 17% and you have likely met or worked for one in some capacity in your life. You may ask, “How you do I know if my boss is a ‘C’ style?” They fall in the task-oriented, passive personality category. They are data-driven, process-oriented, analytical, and less verbal in their interaction with others because they are often thinking about the information they wish to relay or questions they need to answer. They enjoy following the rules, are great at analyzing and organizing information, often referred to as the resident “perfectionists,” and generally prefer to work alone versus on teams. The “C” style boss is great at ensuring the organization is operating within established corporate guidelines and in line with company policies and procedures.

Why are they viewed as “difficult?”

“C” style bosses tend to get a bad report because of their analytic and reserved nature, mixed with their desire to focus on information over emotions. They’re not inherently concerned with building relationships like the “S” and “I” styles, and their “D” style teammates may get frustrated at the level of inquiry they may receive from a “C” style boss. They, at times, can get stuck in the “paralysis of analysis” while digging deep into procedural minutiae. They can slow down the pace of decision-making for the organization until they believe the data is complete and they are confident moving forward.

Much like their “S” and “I” styles, “C” style bosses also prefer conflict-free environments. Operating autonomously, without fear of criticism, is important for the “C” style boss to thrive. Frustration sets in when the “C” style begins feeling as though they are operating under unrealistic time-constraints, lacking clear guidelines and resources to perform, and continuously bombarded with complaints and criticism. They feel a responsibility to inform, but will withdraw if unable to do so in a positive environment.

How to successfully work with the “C” style boss

If you find your next boss happens to be a “C” style, here are a few simple things you can do to establish a positive working relationship in the office:

“D” Styles: Steady, supportive communication. The “C” style enjoys discussing information required to complete a project on time and within budget. Plan for adequate time to allow questioning and don’t make it personal. The “C” style makes decisions based on all available information, so be patient in your communication and provide insight on any known obstacles or constraints. They will be most helpful at problem-solving, working through any challenges that may arise, and will appreciate your ability to address issues they identify.

“I” Styles: Focus on facts, provide details. The “C” style boss is generally less interested in spending time socializing when they feel there is work to be done. They believe there is a time for work (at work) and a time for play (not at work.) Stay focused on the task at hand. Present facts and be prepared to support your claims with logic over a “feeling.” Expect the “C” style boss to take time to process information before responding, and even express doubt or concern. Facts coupled with valid, relevant data sources will increase their trust and confidence in you. They will appreciate your optimism and support. 

“S” Styles: Ask questions, show appreciation. The “C” style boss will appreciate your more passive approach to communication, but don’t fear speaking up when you need more information or explanation. The “C” will be happy to articulate detail as needed when given time to do so. They will also appreciate your natural ability to foster a positive, working environment, along with your diplomatic communication skills. Your observant, big-picture nature and systematic approach to planning will couple nicely with the “C” style’s attention to detail. Let them know what information you are missing and show your appreciation for their willingness to collaborate.

“C” Styles: Avoid battles of the minds. You will likely understand and appreciate the fellow “C” style’s quest for data, accuracy, and autonomy, but don’t allow yourself to feel threatened by their in-depth research and analysis of a subject. Be sure to plan for enough time to encourage the opportunity for questions and discussion. Seek to collaborate and underpin information gathering efforts to form a comprehensive data set that seeks to inform, not compete. Again, beware of the “paralysis of analysis” that can surface when tunnel vision begins restricting progress and slowing down the pace. The goal is to inform and keep the team moving in the direction of growth.

Read also:

Tips for Dealing with a Dominant Boss

Dealing with Difficult Bosses: The Influential Style

Dealing with Difficult Bosses: The Steady Boss


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Written by: Lindy Lamielle

Lindy is a retired Air Force veteran, Certified Behavioral Life Coach, and DISC Consultant and entrepreneur who enjoys learning and sharing knowledge. When she's not sitting on the soccer field sidelines or putting out teenage fires, she fills her cup through speaking, writing, coaching small business owners and entrepreneurs, and performing a little social media sourcery. Personality Style: S-I