DISC Patterns Explained – Elevated DSC Pattern

Individuals whose DISC assessment results point toward a ranking with three elevated factors — Elevated D, S, & C (and comparatively lower Influence) will generally exhibit these types of tendencies:

The combination of three elevated factors — dominance, steadiness, and compliance — can be a fairly complex pattern. The three elevated factors overshadow influence, which causes individuals with this shape pattern to generally place a high value on data, facts, and rational decision-making — rather than using intuitive decision-making and persuasion factors. They base very little weight on emotions, preferring to deal in the logical realm.

An example of a person who uses the DSC factors to their advantage is Barbara Walters.

She was the first female co-anchor of network evening news. She strove to be a successful, powerful, and influential woman in the male-dominated powerhouse of TV news. Walters began her career before the Women’s Movement, one in which women were not taken seriously reporting the ‘hard news’. She worked her way to the top by proving that she was a top-rate interviewer by following the rules and not wavering when tough questions needed to be asked. Walters is renowned for her preparation and the thoughtfulness she puts into her interviews about what the audience might like to learn from the people she was interviewing. Even more important Walters is persistent in her desire to interview the most captivating, powerful and interesting people in the world – a characteristic of this profile is the desire for excellence in their chosen endeavors.

In this pattern, when the individual becomes stressed, the Elevated D factor might have the tendency to become overbearing, domineering, or antagonistic.

Without the balance of the influencing factor, people with this profile might be at odds with those around them during brainstorming sessions or when conflict arises. The further apart the patterns of D and I are, the more this could become problematic. Walters struggled with surviving in the news world as a powerful woman. She was often the odd person out, but her persistence and steadiness helped her stay on track and on her way to being successful in the news’ world.


Individuals with this pattern tend to place a high value on the gains made from the investment of their time and efforts in concrete terms. They like to be appreciated and recognized for their efforts, but this recognition must be as something akin to professional respect, not just platitudes and flattery. When working in teams or on complex projects, Elevated D, S, & C type individuals often insist that appropriate strategy and planning be completed before starting actions leading to the final goal. They believe this is prudent and necessary in order to gain a competitive edge and to preserve their valuable resources.

Not doing so makes them anxious and stressed which might, in turn, be detrimental to their relationship with their teammates. Because of this required “strategy and planning phase”, these individuals should map out and pay adequate attention to the transitional timeline phases. This would be especially valuable in the first four phases of the Transitional Time Line. These individuals like to have a comprehensive understanding of the risks and rewards, consequences, costs and penalties for failure to reach goals before going into implementation phases. In addition, these individuals are willing to be held accountable and will insist that others around them be held to the same standard.

Walters knew how difficult her road to becoming accepted and successful in the news world would be.

She knew that if she wanted to make it happen, however, she had to stay on the path and deal with the obstacles people put in her path and difficulties that being the first woman on a male-dominated field brought her. She had a strategy and it was to be a consummate professional in everything she did, to persevere no matter what, work harder than anyone in her field, make connections, and continually work her way to the top. Her strategy and dogged persistence eventually paid off when she finally got her break and became the first female co-anchor on NBC in 1974.

People with an Elevated D, S, & C pattern tend to communicate sporadically and will provide input only when they feel pressured to do so or to satisfy the requirement of some measure of control.

This may frustrate team members, even more so if this individual also exhibits a hindsight bias. In some instances, it might seem like they have a hidden agenda because they tend to play things so close to the vest. Fortunately, though, because of the sub-factors of efficiency, accuracy, and thoughtfulness, their steadfast and patient approach in getting things done will be welcomed as a valuable asset on most teams. In a team environment or in a social group, they will be seen as the bedrock or foundation that the group depends on. Meanwhile, in a business setting, this means that they will keep the team out of trouble because of their logical ways and thoughtfulness and abilities to strategize and plan for contingencies. In this way, they help to avoid risk and to capitalize effectively on opportunities.

In a family situation, they keep the family goals on track and are often the ones who make sure that financial plans stay on track and make certain that plans are in place for emergencies.

Furthermore, because this type of individual constantly evaluates contingency plans, always considering best and worst-case scenario and thinking of exit plans in case things do not go as planned, they are a calming influence for any group. Others look to them in times of change and during emergency situations. Because of these qualities, many think of Elevated D, S & C individuals as being comfortable with the ‘systems approach’ to project management. They are highly efficient and effective administrators and are highly adept at understanding complex systems at the micro and macro levels. Most important, this profile shows a high level of loyalty and patience — both highly desirable in the workplace.

Through her Elevated Steadiness factor, Walters used an incredible amount of patience and in her quest for accomplishment in the news world. Although she could have been successful in any number of areas and could have quit the news business and decided to pursue a different career that would have been far less stressful and challenging, she remained persistent and accomplished her goals. She was highly efficient in her work and did what she had to do to get ahead in her field.

Possible Weaknesses for an Elevated DSC Pattern:

Because of their low influencing factors, this type of DISC pattern may result in someone being resistant to change. Their Elevated Dominance factor might overshadow situations where their instinct should be followed. In this regard, they may be open to manipulation, because they are not able to read when people are using confirmation biases to sway the influencing process.

Because they place a relatively low value on influencing abilities, their willingness to facilitate or engage in critical discussions in a political manner will also be low.

This could hamper cooperativeness in team discussions, and it could potentially hurt their ability to be promoted into team leadership positions. The individual with this profile should be careful not to spend too much time in strategic development or be overly focused on the planning stages.

They must understand that as circumstances change, plans will have to be adjusted, and being overly concerned with perfectionism will be the enemy of getting some things done in a timely manner. Sometimes they just have to bite the bullet and move ahead even if plans aren’t picture perfect or even remotely finalized.

Another person who used their Elevated DS&C factors to their benefit was John Quincy Adams.

He was President of the United States from 1825-1829. He was deeply conservative and shaped America’s foreign policy on his beliefs, following his compliant nature. John Quincy Adams was also ardently committed to his Republican Party’s principles and core values. He mentored Abraham Lincoln and correctly predicted that the President could use his war powers to abolish slavery, just as Lincoln did with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Jonas Salk is another person who used his DSC factors to his advantage. When he was inventing the polio vaccine, polio was the United States most rampant disease. He strove to find a vaccine and worked tirelessly to do so. Jonas used his medical knowledge to go into medical research rather than becoming a physician, which shocked his peers at Medical School. He had to persevere for seven years to find a vaccine for polio. Discovering the vaccine is a perfect example of someone using their Steadiness and Compliance factors to their benefit to achieve something great.

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