Executive Coaching and Opposing DISC Personalities

Executive Coaching and Opposing DISC Personalities

As leaders move higher up in an organization, there are fewer people who can effectively help them hone their leadership skills. At that point, the leader or the organization may consider hiring an executive coach to help. If you have knowledge of DISC Theory and use the DISC Personality System in your development, consider selecting an executive coach who has an opposite DISC style than your own for the following reasons:

Expand your coaching expertise  with DISC CertificationSounding board

Executive coaches serve first and foremost as a sounding board for your ideas and challenges. They won’t offer advice, but instead ask questions to help you reach your own decision. If you are a strong “D” style, having a coach who comes from the perspective of an “S” personality, for example, may provide the opportunity to consider a more stable, routine way of delivering results. An “I” style has to consider how much of an opposite they will choose. Since they seek approval, an “S” style might be as opposite as they may be comfortable working with.

Goal clarification

This is where every style clearly has their own way of developing and communicating goals. An “I” style may set goals that sound fantastic, however, they tend to bite off more than they can chew. Having an executive coach with either a “D” or a “C” style will help the “I” style ground their assumptions about their goals, making them more achievable. Or vice-versa, the “C” style may benefit from an “S” or a “D” style who can help them choose only the details that are critical to the goal. They can also help them present the goals to others in a way that gains buy-in.


When it comes to decision-making, the “D” style is best known for this strength. The challenge, however, is that they don’t always think through the details or how the changes will be communicated. This is where having an executive coach who is either an “S” style or “C” style will help by asking questions to assist the “D” in creating a little more detailed plan to deliver effective results and roll out a communication plan. Or, an “I” coach might be a good fit if you are looking to improve team engagement in the process. They love to celebrate success and may ask questions about things the “D” doesn’t naturally think about.

Building Influence

One of the challenges for executives is influencing people over whom they have no authority. The “D” style is accustomed to having control over their team, so choosing an executive coach that is an “I” style can develop their interpersonal social interactions. This relationship building is key to influencing others. Once others see the “D” as a comrade instead of the authority figure, they are more likely to listen to new ideas. The “I” style coach might also benefit a “C” style, who can come across as critical when pointing out details to others. The “I” style is focused on the relationship and can ask questions that gets the “C” style to consider a new approach.

Leading in times of change

A “D” style coach will help an “S” style think more about the need for building consensus around change and less about their fear of it. Or, the “D” might coach an “I” style around taking action quickly once a direction has been chosen. A “D,” on the other hand, will benefit from executive coaching by a “C” style who can ask questions about details to consider about the change. On the flip side, the “D” coach can help a “C” develop a “big picture” view to share, without too much detail.

In any combination of styles, the opposite perspective will give you a “bridge” to flex your style into unfamiliar territory. If you know you want to be able to develop the strengths of a particular style, you may want to find an executive coach with that primary style. This is where the growth happens. Choosing opposite executive coaching styles creates the extra advantage you need at the highest level of leadership. Are you ready for that challenge?

Curious for more? Read also:

DISC Coaching in the 4 “Seasons” of Our Career

Soft skills to borrow from each DISC style

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Written by: Michael Dattilio

Michael Dattilio enjoys focusing on the interactions of parts in any system, be it a team, a process, or an organization to help create simple solutions to sometimes complex challenges. Personality Style: D