Each of the four DISC types (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness) represents a set of behaviors that can manifest positively or negatively in the CEO.
For that reason, I always encourage CEOs to know their DISC type and understand what it means for them.
The High D—or very Dominant—CEO is common, but I’ve worked with a couple of very Conscientious people recently, and it reminded me of the predictable ways High-C CEOs end up in failure mode.
The High Conscientiousness person is the prototypical project manager; they keep the trains running and want things done right. They care greatly about details and accuracy. Unfortunately, this orientation can be at odds with the exploratory thinking all good CEOs must do.
And at a more basic level, High-C CEOs can simply drive their teams crazy with minutiae. A classic scenario:
The High-C CEO sits with his sales leader. “What are the numbers going to be this quarter?” he asks.
The sales leader then gives her projection of how the quarter is likely to play out.
But the High-C CEO isn’t done. Now they want to go through all the deals. They want to know the background and status of each one. They want evidence the sales group is handling the deals correctly and following the proper process. They’re probably jumping in and giving the sales leader unsolicited input too.
The sales leader walks out of that meeting not only annoyed but also feeling like the CEO just doesn’t trust them. It’s classic micromanagement, and it’s especially harmful at the CEO level.
As chief executive, even if you’re highly Conscientious, you must learn to hire leaders whom you fully trust to do their jobs—and then you must actually trust them while you step back and tend to higher-level matters.
Unlearning High-C tendencies isn’t easy, but it is possible. You can remain true to your detail-loving self while tempering it with confidence in your team and a broader vision. It just takes some time, intention, and understanding of the unique balances required of the professional CEO.