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October 19, 2023

Harnessing Executive Coaching to Unlock the Power of Growth Mindset for DISC Behavioural Traits


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A leader’s motivation and approach to learning and self-development sets the tone not just for his or her success, but the culture of the organisation. Having a growth mindset is vital to stay ahead in this competitive world. But what are the elements of a growth mindset? How does it tie to the different DISC behaviour traits? Can it be developed? What are the challenges each behavioural trait may face? More importantly, how coaching can help them overcome and make the most gains from a growth mindset?

A growth mindset is a concept developed in 2006 by Carol Dweck, a psychologist who focuses on intelligence and motivation. In a nutshell, individuals with a growth mindset believe that their abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, hard work and learning. They tend to be unfazed by challenges, persevere in the face of setbacks and learn from criticism. Additionally, they view failure as an opportunity to learn and improve rather than a reflection of their abilities.

These traits can be held in contrast to a fixed mindset, also defined by Dweck, which is the belief that abilities and intelligence are innate and unchangeable. People with a fixed mindset may avoid challenges to avoid failure and may give up easily when faced with difficulties. They may view criticism as an attack and difficulties as threats to their intelligence.

A growth mindset can help you lead a more successful life
A growth mindset can help you lead a successful life

You may have already inferred from the descriptions above that having a growth mindset is highly beneficial in many situations and stages of life. Whether you’re a student, entrepreneur or C-level executive, having a growth mindset fosters resilience, a love of learning, and adaptability. It can help you succeed.

Cultivating a growth mindset for DISC types

It is possible to cultivate a growth mindset through awareness, effort and intentional practice. Having a mentor or coach can also help to point you in the right direction. In addition, an effective way to develop your abilities is by understanding your behavioural type and how you learn best.

The DISC model is a popular behavioural profiling system that categorises behavioural traits into four primary types. They are Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S) and Compliance (C). Each type is associated with a set of characteristics:

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Dominance (D): The dominant traits are assertive, decisive and result-oriented. They are competitive, enjoy taking charge and having power. They thrive in fast-paced, high-pressure environments and are often natural leaders.

Influence (I): Individuals with an influence behavioural trait are typically outgoing, social and persuasive. They thrive on building relationships, are often enthusiastic and optimistic, and enjoy working in a team environment.

Steadiness (S): Steadiness behavioural traits have a calm and patient demeanour. They value cooperation, harmony and stability. They are often supportive team members who prefer a steady and predictable work environment.

Compliance (C): The compliance behavioural traits are detail-oriented, analytical and systematic. They enjoy working with data and information and prefer to work independently. These people prioritise accuracy. They enjoy problem-solving and ensure quality and precision in their work.

Shifting toward a growth mindset means understanding that your qualities (such as intelligence and leadership) are not set in stone. They can be cultivated.
Understand your qualities to shift your mindset (e.g. intelligence and leadership).

The way people approach challenges and setbacks is related to their behaviours. Those with a growth mindset tend to be more open to learning and feedback, regardless of their behavioural type. However, individuals with different DISC types may face unique challenges in the way they learn. A trained coach will understand these challenges and tailor coaching strategies accordingly.

How coaching can unleash the growth mindset

As leaders in the business world, executives shape organisational culture, drive innovation and steer teams towards achieving desired goals. In the dynamic landscape of today’s corporate environment, the ability to cultivate a growth mindset is paramount. This mindset is especially impactful when tailored to the unique characteristics of each DISC behavioural profile.

Dominance (D): The visionary leader

They are forceful, decisive and have a goal-oriented mindset. Fostering a growth mindset in executives with a dominant trait involves embracing challenges as opportunities for personal and professional development. Setting ambitious goals that require continuous learning and adaptability is a key strategy. Executive coaching can guide dominant traits in channelling their energy effectively, ensuring that their assertiveness aligns with a mindset focused on learning from setbacks and valuing input from their teams.

High-D behavioural types may struggle with developing a growth mindset. They tend to be highly self-assured and may view feedback or criticism as a threat to their authority or competence. They may also struggle to accept failure or setbacks, as they are used to achieving success quickly and decisively. To help high D behavioural types develop a growth mindset, a coach will reassure that criticism is not always a challenge to the high D’s authority, and focus on the benefits of learning from failure or feedback. Along a similar vein, a coach will urge the high D to be more empathetic and consultative and realise that there is more than one way to achieve a desired result.

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In developing a growth mindset, a coach can remind a dominance personality type to not feel threatened by feedback or criticism
A coach can remind a dominant behavioural type not to feel threatened by feedback or criticism

Influence (I): The inspirational collaborator

Executives characterised by an influence behavioural trait thrive on collaboration, relationships and positive interactions. Cultivating a growth mindset for these leaders involves recognising the learning potential in every social interaction. Executive coaching can support them in seeking diverse learning experiences and celebrating personal growth within a team context. By emphasising the importance of positive self-reflection and sharing success stories, these leaders can inspire a growth-oriented culture within their organisations.

The challenge for high I behavioural types in developing a growth mindset can be similar to high D types: they may view criticism or feedback as a personal attack. They may also struggle to focus on long-term goals, as they are often more interested in immediate gratification. To guide high I type to achieve a growth mindset, a coach will need to focus on showing the benefits of long-term planning and delayed gratification. They will need to steer the high I away from viewing feedback as a personal attack. Additionally, a coach will help high-I behavioural types understand the importance of persistence and hard work.

Steadiness (S): The supportive stabilizer

Executives with steadiness behavioural traits bring stability, patience and a supportive approach to leadership. Fostering a growth mindset for these leaders involves valuing learning in stable environments and appreciating the journey of consistent efforts. Executive coaching can guide them in integrating growth-oriented activities into a routine, building supportive relationships and creating a culture that values incremental progress. Through mentorship and a focus on team learning, they can cultivate a growth mindset that aligns with their stabilizing leadership style.

High S behavioural types may struggle with developing a growth mindset because they tend to be risk-averse and may view failure or setbacks as a threat to their stability or security. They may also struggle to assert themselves or take initiative, as they prefer to avoid conflict or disruption. A coach can encourage high S behavioural types to view feedback as opportunities to grow rather than threats to their stability and emphasise the importance of taking initiative and being assertive.

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Compliance (C): The analytical strategist

Compliance-type executives are meticulous, analytical and detail-oriented. Developing a growth mindset for these leaders involves a structured and goal-oriented approach to learning. Executive coaching can support them in setting clear and detailed goals, regularly monitoring progress and fostering a culture that encourages continuous improvement. By emphasising analytical reflection and promoting knowledge-sharing within their teams, these leaders can create an environment conducive to a growth mindset.

Having a growth mindset may require a Compliance personality type to look beyond data and details to see the bigger picture, and be willing to experiment and take risks
Having a growth mindset may require a high-C behavioural trait to look beyond data and details to see the bigger picture

For high C behavioural types, the struggle with developing a growth mindset may come about because they tend to be highly critical of themselves and others. They may view failure or setbacks as a reflection of their competence or intelligence, rather than an opportunity to learn. They may also struggle to take risks or embrace change, as they prefer to rely on established procedures and methods. A coach can help high C behavioural types understand the benefits of experimentation and innovation, and emphasize the importance of taking calculated risks and embracing change.

Executive coaching as a catalyst for a growth mindset

Unlocking the full potential of executives involves not only recognising the nuances of each DISC behavioural type. It also cultivates a growth mindset that aligns with their unique characteristics. Executive coaching acts as a catalyst for this transformation, providing tailored strategies, accountability and support for leaders on their journey to becoming better versions of themselves. As executives embrace the principles of a growth mindset, they not only foster their personal development. It also accelerates team performance and lays the foundation for a thriving organisational culture that values continuous learning, adaptability and resilience.

Whatever behavioural type you are, we can help you develop or enhance a growth mindset. Get in touch with us here.

Unlock your potential by having a coach help you understand your DISC type and guide you toward a growth mindset
Unlock your potential by having a coach help you understand your DISC type and guide you toward a growth mindset
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