Learn how to manage personalities during times of change so you can maintain positivity, engagement and productivity – and help your business survive.

you thought about which personality types are represented within your team? And
have you ever considered how you would manage these personalities during hard
times or rapid changes?

why it’s important.

various personalities – those conflicting perspectives and working styles – can
be challenging even during the smoothest of times.

consider the
unexpected changes
and really
turbulent periods when the impact on your business is challenging at best.

of change could include:

  • Working virtually
  • Multiple
    responsibilities or increased workload
  • New leadership
  • Rapid information
  • Change in routine

thoughtful leadership to manage personalities within your team, these changes
can become much more difficult on your people and will ask a lot of you as a

Instead, consider the strengths of your team dynamics and identify how you can manage personalities during times of change.

Importance of understanding other personalities

change, emotional intelligence in yourself and your other leaders is critical

  • Keeping your workforce
    engaged and productive
  • Decreasing stress
    and conflict
  • Maintaining the
    quality of services that your customers need and expect

The best
leaders demonstrate
care and concern for others


  1. Leaders influence emotions.
  2. Emotions drive people.
  3. People drive performance.

The success
of your business stems from the mindset and actions of your people, which is
directly impacted by your leadership.

You must
take care of yourself, so you can take care of your people. They will in turn, take
care of your customers and perform the work that keeps your business operating and
moving forward.

It’s also
important that leaders understand themselves. During change, your natural
tendency will be to default toward the way you normally handle things.

psychology, we call this an extinction
. When we take an action, we expect a certain result. When that result
doesn’t pan out, we continue doing the same thing rather than adapting or
changing our approach.

This is how
your behaviors can potentially go from under control to out of control, or from
strength to struggle to strain in leading others.

Here’s an
example of the extinction burst: You’re at an elevator bank and you push the up
or down button. But it fails to light up. Typically, your first impulse isn’t
to take the stairs. Instead, your first impulse is to push the button again. And
again. And again – each time faster and harder.

This is the
normal reaction to psychological pressure: “If a little of me is good, then a
lot of me should be better.” If how I do things naturally is good, then doing
more of that behavior will surely get the result I am looking for.

You may have
heard of this adage: “What you focus on is what you get.” In this situation,
this phrase is more accurate: “What you focus on is what you miss.”

You may
never hear the good ideas of others or learn of a potentially more effective
way to accomplish a task. By focusing only from your go-to perspective you may
miss all of the strengths of the individuals on your team.

perfectly normal to feel frustrated by how employees and co-workers behave and
do things differently. However, realize that no one has it out for you.
Instead, they have it in for themselves.
They are simply pushing that
elevator button the best way they know how to meet their personal needs,
according to their own:

  • Natural
  • Preferences
  • Patterns
  • Comfort zones

A quote that you can use to decrease frustration with others
is, “People aren’t doing things against you, they are normally doing things for
themselves.” That’s why understanding how you behave under pressure or stress
is so important. The people you’re leading aren’t getting up early to make your
life harder. They’re simply behaving in a way that gets their needs met most
readily. If their needs aren’t met, they don’t change their approach they just
double down on the same behavior.

Making the
effort to understand other personalities comes down to
employee engagement
. You want to make people feel validated and supported, so
that you can reduce negative emotions during a stressful time and inspire the
best possible performance out of them.

Now let’s explore the types of people on your team that you’ll guide through times of change. 

DISC: The four major personality types

graphic below shows the four major personalities within the DISC

divided into pace (how people like to interact and make decisions) and priority
(what people focus on most):

  • At the top of the
    circle are the faster-paced, more outgoing and active personalities.
  • At the bottom of
    the circle are the slower-paced, more passive and reserved personalities.
  • On the right side
    are the people-oriented personalities.
  • On the left side
    are task-oriented personalities.

we discuss each of these personality types, keep in mind that we all have
traits of each personality type to varying degrees. No one fits neatly into a
single category. You are a unique combination of all four traits to a lesser or
great extent.

Don’t worry if you haven’t formally administered a DISC assessment of your team. You should be able to get a general sense of your team members’ personalities from the explanation of each. You could also ask your team members which of these personalities they most identify with so you have a better idea of how to work with them.

D personality

only about 10 to 15 percent of the population, the D personality includes the
dominant, take-charge people. They’re fast-paced and task-oriented, focusing on
what they can control and accomplish. They gravitate toward positions of authority.
They look for opportunities to get the job done.

a high-stakes situation, D personalities are most likely to say something like:
“Just do what I asked you to do. Get it done.”

this is also their struggle. D personalities can:

  • Lack awareness of
    how their directness and bluntness can hurt others
  • Can be perceived
    as argumentative because of their desire to debate others’ conclusions

you’re a D personality, here’s how you can be an effective leader of all the
personalities on your team:

  • Other D
    personalities will most likely value your determination and decisiveness. Keep
    them focused on moving forward and taking action.
  • Reach out to I
    personalities frequently. They want to know that you care about them and prefer
    to talk through their goals and next steps.
  • Help S
    personalities create a routine so they can better support you. Be sure to
    express your appreciation for them.
  • Keep C
    personalities updated on your expectations of them and the next steps in the plan.

you have D personalities on your team (and you’re not a D), here’s how you can
support and motivate them:

  • Give them a goal
    and purpose – even a challenge. Don’t let them feel sidelined.
  • Be specific in
    your instructions, get to the bottom line.
  • Communicate
    clearly what the desired results are and where they can take action.

a D personality is stressed, it often helps them to get involved with a
physical activity. Something they can take charge of and be in control.

I personality

25 to 30 percent of the population, the I personality is what we think of as
the classic extrovert. I personalities are people- and relationship-oriented,
outgoing and like to be involved. They want to influence others and add positive
energy to their environment, and in turn they enjoy recognition for their

stressful circumstances, an I personality may think: “Everyone’s so uptight
right now. We could use some levity and energy.”

like to talk through issues and solve problems by verbalizing their feelings.
However, this can result in a perceived lack of structure or focus.

you’re an I personality, here’s how you can be an effective leader of all the
personalities on your team:

  • Remember that D
    personalities always like to have something to do. Talk to them about their
    goals and make sure they understand their objectives.
  • Encourage your
    fellow I personalities to add energy and share their ideas.
  • Speak to S
    personalities with kindness. They’re looking for you to support them, and they want
    to support you as well.
  • Focus your
    conversations with C personalities on facts over feelings or fantasy.

you have I personalities on your team (and you’re not an I), here’s how you can
support and motivate them:

  • Be engaging
    toward them. Ask them how they’re doing and how their day’s going.
  • Allow breaks for
    conversation throughout the day.
  • Solicit their
  • Communicate with
    them about tasks and projects more often than you may with other personalities
    – preferably face to face versus email. Give them the opportunity to ask
    questions or share concerns.

an I personality is stressed, interaction with others can help them. Take time
to reach out to others. Face time, a phone call or a virtual meeting are all

S personality

the largest portion of the population – between 30 to 35 percent – S
personalities seek to support others and crave a solid routine to help them do


  • Especially value harmony
  • Want to be a team player and tend to process
    information with others’ feelings in mind
  • Are focused on people and relationships, and
    how their actions impact everyone else
  • They’re also great listeners

conflict, S personalities often worry about how everyone seems upset. They can
struggle with how to fix problems without being confrontational.

struggle tends to be a lack of assertiveness.

you’re an S personality, here’s how you can be an effective leader of all the
personalities on your team:

  • Give D
    personalities prepared action plans. They want decisiveness and their marching
  • Reach out to I
    personalities to ask for their ideas. Nurture relationships with them.
  • Other S
    personalities will appreciate your supportive nature. Let them know you’re
    available, encourage them and be their source of calm.
  • Provide C
    personalities with structure in the form of facts, processes and procedures.

you have S personalities on your team (and you’re not an S), here’s how you can
support and motivate them:

  • Provide
    a safe and welcoming environment
  • Be
    open, sincere and authentic in your communications and interactions
  • Promote
  • Watch
    your tone – aggressiveness is a major turn-off

To de-stress, S personalities enjoy opportunities to break routine and
focus their mental energy elsewhere. A few ways they can alleviate tension:

  • Watch
  • Take
    a walk
  • Read
    a book
  • Visit
    with someone they trust and care about

C personality

20 to 25 percent of the population, C personalities focus on tasks.

value accomplishing tasks:

  • The right way
  • With precision
  • In alignment with procedures
  • With the best information available

They prize order and structure. These
are the people we think of as the
classic introvert

a crisis, you’ll likely hear a C personality say something like: “This is
important, and we need to get our response right and information correct. We
can’t make a mistake.”

of information and inaccuracy are major stressors for this group. They fear
mistakes and worry about what can go wrong. In order to solve problems, they
gather information, validate it and then create an action plan.

a result, C personalities can be perceived as slow to act or pessimistic.

you’re a C personality, here’s how you can be an effective leader of all the
personalities on your team:

  • Set
    parameters for how you want D personalities to solve problems.
  • Brainstorm
    ideas with I personalities. Keep your conversations upbeat and positive.
  • Create
    processes and procedures that S personalities can leverage to support you.
  • Other
    C personalities will appreciate your logical and factual approach. Give them
    the information they seek to perform their function.

If you have C personalities on your
team (and you’re not a C), here’s how you can support and motivate them:

  • Follow
    procedures and guidelines
  • Be
    a model for excellence and accuracy
  • Communicate
    facts, and share information as soon as you can
  • Support
    your decisions with proof
  • Understand
    their need to work more independently and perhaps have less face time

To cope with conflict and stress, C personalities usually need time alone
to do something quiet, such as:

  • Reading
    a book
  • Engaging
    in a hobby

Summing it all up

To help your business navigate changes while keeping employees engaged
and unified, you need all four of the DISC personalities.

This discussion isn’t about deciding which personalities are better; it’s
about improving our understanding of our differences and celebrating what we
each contribute.

Recognizing your own natural tendencies compared to those of your employees will help you to become a more thoughtful, emotionally intelligent leader.

For more information on enhancing your leadership skills and inspiring the best performance from employees, even in tough times, download our free magazine: The Insperity guide to leadership and management.