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Resolute leaders: DiSC CD or DC style leadership

Resolute leaders can be questioning, independent leaders who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo to get better results.
5 min read

The resolute dimension of leadership

The Everything DiSC®-based typology of leadership styles helps determine your or your client’s primary leadership dimension and identify areas for development. It can also help you consider what type of leadership style might be most effective to use during specific organizational challenges.

Even though great leaders use each of the eight dimensions of leadership, they tend to prefer one or find one easier to exhibit. Leaders who primarily use the resolute dimension tend to be challenging, determined, and rational. It reflects their CD or DC DiSC style.

Who is a resolute leader?

Resolute leaders are highly determined and persistent. They have the inner strength to give people courage during hard times. They tend to be natural skeptics and show disdain for weakness and incompetence. You might hear them say “should” a lot; they like to see things done the “right” way—or maybe just their way.

If you’re a resolute leader you might see yourself as highly competent, determined, rational, independent, and up for a challenge. You set high standards for yourself and others. You spot inefficiencies and aren’t afraid to speak up when you see a problem.

Resolute leaders are often seen as having a fighting spirit in that they will push for what they see is right. This is a dimension leaders will want to turn to when a very visible project fails, a strategic project goes awry, a project goes grossly over budget, or market competition is forcing a disciplined focus.

Leaders occupying the resolute dimension probably shy away from giving motivational, emotional speeches or showing much enthusiasm. You’re more likely to see them deep in debate or working on a tricky problem.

Resolute leadership

“Leadership is not about ‘Follow me because I am great,’ but rather ‘Come with me and help meet the challenges of the day.’”
Deborah Ancona, professor of leadership, MIT Sloan

Strengths of the resolute leader:

  • They tend to be good problem solvers.
  • They’re often able to push their way through obstacles.
  • They’re able to hold people accountable.
  • They’re often able to identify potential weaknesses in plans.
  • They’re not afraid to speak their minds.
  • They’re usually able to separate feelings from issues.
  • They have a competitive streak that helps them achieve their goals.
  • They have high standards for themselves and others.

Goals: Independence, personal accomplishment, efficient results

Would increase effectiveness through: Warmth, tactful communication, paying attention to others’ needs

Source: The 8 Dimensions of Leadership

[P]erhaps challenge-driven leadership is particularly well-suited to our current moment, with its high levels of ambiguity and opportunity.
Deborah Ancona and Hal Gregersen of the MIT Leadership Center

What can we learn from resolute leaders?

Leaders need to have a fervent focus on outcomes

This style of leadership is ready to hold people accountable, setting high expectations for quality, efficiency, and the bottom line. Many new leaders struggle with holding others accountable because they are more relationship-oriented and aren’t comfortable asking people to make sacrifices or struggle with speaking in an authoritative way.

Resolute leaders start with the end in mind and look ahead toward second- and third-order consequences of decisions. They look for what might derail their forward movement. They are very clear about what outcomes they want to see their people produce, but don’t necessarily prescribe solutions for how to get to that outcome.

It’s important for these leaders to set challenging yet reasonable goals and to inquire regularly about progress toward results. If individuals or teams are hitting roadblocks or aren’t on track, the resolute leader is ready to analyze why and to hold people accountable.

A top-level leader “demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult.
Jim Collins, business management researcher and author

Go find what needs fixing in your organization. Wander around the plant, the store, the branch, the halls, or the office. Look for things that don’t seem right. Ask questions. Probe.
Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge

The right decisions will upset people from time to time

You can’t always make decisions based on what someone else wants or on what will make others like you. Resolute leaders are tough-minded and able to make decisions objectively. This can take a level of courage and resolve. They can care about their people and still address entrenched or politically charged problems. In fact, they tend to be good about anticipating reactions from all their constituents before they announce their decisions.

All leaders can learn to take a proactive stance when announcing their decisions, not letting information leak out and confuse or worry their followers. They can learn to connect the dots for people, tying their decisions to the organization’s goals and mission. They can learn to acknowledge objections while helping people move toward a goal. Developing this dimension can help leaders look for long-term solutions rather than quick fixes that will need to be fixed again.

Whatever temporary pain you might incur from making a tough call should pale in comparison to the precedent you set that it’s important to put the organization’s success first.
Ron Carucci, cofounder and managing partner at Navalent

The pitfalls of resolute-only leadership

It should come as no surprise that the resolute leader can come across as disinterested or guarded because they are so serious and skeptical. Their insistence on high standards rather than on relationships can make them seem aggressive and cold. They might not show explosive anger but show disdain or disgust instead when confronted with poor-quality work or poorly constructed arguments.

Their own drive for personal mastery can cause them to try to control what isn’t possible to control. They have little patience for anyone they see as incompetent and may not give someone the mentoring or opportunities that would allow him or her to shine. They expect things to go well and tend to let good work pass without comment. When things go wrong, however, their disapproval might be too evident.

Resolute leaders can have a hard time rallying their troops because they ignore the emotional side of the workplace. They can be detached from their teams and distrust displays of enthusiasm or excitement. These leaders have a strong sense of what “should” be and can struggle with those who see things or work differently.


Kristeen Bullwinkle

Steeped in Everything DiSC since 2010. Strongly inclined CD style. Leadership style and EQ mindset: resolute. Believes strongly in the serial comma.

Certifications from Wiley:
Everything DiSC, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team

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