The Personality Traits Of Business Owners And DISC

The Personality Traits Of Business Owners And DISC
  • Successful business owners not only manage their people well but also understand theirs and their employee’s personality, traits and working styles.
  • Using the DISC profile, running the business becomes easy with strong relationships developed because you’re hiring the right personality and traits.
  • The DISC profile measures dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance traits in a person to determine the working behaviour to achieve a well-balanced team.

A journalist from Start Up Smart recently asked me some questions about the personality traits of successful small business owners and what to do if you find you’re not well suited to life as an entrepreneur. These are my responses.

Question: I see you offer DISC profiling. What can you tell about a person from this profiling system? 

Response:  A DISC Profile defines ‘working behaviour’ which I explain using the following simple equation:

Working Behaviour = Personality (the constant in the equation) x The Working Environment (which is highly variable)

The lesson is that if we change the working environment, we will see a change in the working behaviours used, based on a person’s personality.

What is the DISC model?

The DISC model plots business behaviour using D, I, S and C factor scales. Simplified, each end of the DISC factor scales can be described as:

  • Dominance – ranging from someone who’s all about power & goals to someone who dislikes responsibility and seeks to be in a team;
  • Influence – ranging from someone who is all about people and recognition to someone who dislikes involvement and likes to specialise;
  • Steadiness – ranging from someone who maintains a steady pace and seeks security to someone who dislikes boredom and seeks variety;
  • Compliance – ranging from someone who likes policy and having rules to someone who dislikes control and wants independence.

Given a person’s responses to the DISC personality test questionnaire, we can extrapolate their working behaviours along the DISC axis and report on their working behaviour in the following situations:

  • A Person’s Preferred Working Behaviour – the style of behaviour they want to use in the working environment;
  • Their Current Working Behaviour – how they are adjusting their preferred style of behaviour (if at all) to be successful in their current working environment. This is often called their ‘Work Mask’ as it is how their colleagues are seeing them behave at work;
  • Behaviour Under Pressure – when one is under pressure situations workplace stress.

When we know a person's preferred working style, we can also predict with a high degree of accuracy:

  • What they value
  • What they seek
  • What they avoid
  • How they respond under pressure
  • Their approach to work situations
  • What strategies to use when working and/or negotiating with them.

In addition, a full DISC personality test report will explore such areas as their leadership, sales, customer service and technical styles in addition to how best to manage them as an individual and within a team. They may also give questions to ask at interview. The Discus DISC profiling system also includes job, team and relationship reporting features.

Question: Are certain types of people, with certain personality traits, more likely to succeed in their own business than others? If so, what entrepreneurial skills and characteristics should one have?

Response: We are all capable of demonstrating each type of working behaviour when we choose to, but we have those that we prefer to use and will revert to when under pressure. If we can find a role where we are able to use our preferred working behaviours, we use less energy changing our business behaviour and more using our strengths to meet the aims of the role.

Whilst behaviours can be developed over time, there are styles of business behaviour that are more common in certain roles. A business develops through stages, often from a solo startup, to an employer, to successful SME to public (or private) corporation. At each stage, the styles of behaviours required by its owner/manager/leader will change.

In Start Ups, we often find a person with a technical skill-set who believes that they can set up a business and work on their own. This type of person often has a profile which worked well in their employment and is excellent at providing a quality service, handling details and technical issues, but is not so good with conflict, multi-tasking and/or being the ‘front man’ salesperson.

Conversely, there is the type of person who is highly driven, goal focused (often fear failure), a great sales person and who is prepared to ‘do what it takes’ to get the business up and running at any cost.

However, (there always is one) this person is likely to get bored focusing on details and doing ‘day to day tasks’ which they view as mundane. This style of business behaviour is perhaps more common in the successful entrepreneurs who builds a business to sell and move on.

Question: If you find that you aren’t well suited to life as successful entrepreneurs, do you believe that training or something else can change that if you’re keen on starting a successful business?

As pointed out above, every behavioural style has its strengths and its limitations. Yes, there are those that are more behaviourally suited to using ‘entrepreneurial’ skills and characteristics, but then they also have limitations when it comes to starting a successful business and sustain it.

The key point is that each behavioural style CAN build a successful business IF they make sure that they have people in their team who possess the strengths that cover their (the owner’s) limitations, not just people who are the same as them who may be easy to work with but have the same limitations.

Step one in achieving this is to ‘know yourself,’ your strengths and your limitations – a DISC profile does this. Once you know this, you can become successful by ensuring that at each stage of the businesses development, you have ‘the right people, in the right places, performing the right tasks.’

When used properly, DISC personality test can help you build a better business.

John Belchamber

Owner & Senior Consultant at Invoke Results

I have been passionate about developing people and business performance in small to medium sized businesses for over 20 years. As Founder & Senior Consultant at Invoke Results, my experience across the range of business disciplines that small business owners need to develop a better business is what attracts my clients. Be it developing website and social media strategies, or dealing with your people and performance issues. If you've got business headaches, I'm your pain relief!

Comments (1)
Phil Khor

Phil Khor, Founder at

Great article John. Self-awareness is undoubtedly one of the most important step forward in building a successful business. I've seen how powerful tools such as DISC can prove to be. Thanks for sharing. :)