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4 Behavior Traits Every C-Suite Needs to Survive

Companies have been forced to pivot entire business strategies to sustain the financial hit and keep their organizations operating over the last year and a half. While the market has altered in the blink of an eye, some leaders took these changes head on, while some, unfortunately, got caught in the riptide of change. The make-up of a company’s leadership and the dynamic within the C-suite during times of crisis has proven the disparity between companies that fail and those that succeed during a crisis. 

The personalities, skills, and decision-making tactics within the C-suite set the precedent for the entire organization and shape the company’s culture. It has the power to sustain employee engagement despite high rates of burnout sweeping across the nation’s workforce with 69% of American employees reporting symptoms of burnout.  

While building a dynamic C-suite suited for today’s rapidly changing market, it is imperative to have leaders that will challenge the status quo to keep the organization competitive.  

The DISC assessment is a personality assessment used by 70% of Fortune 500 companies to improve work productivity, teamwork, leadership, sales and communication. DISC profiles describe human behavior in various situations, for example how you respond to challenges, how you influence others, and your response to various situations.  

 Below we share how the four main personality traits highlighted by DISC are essential in every C-suite to sustain a resilient organization.   



People with the D (Dominance) behavior type place an emphasis on shaping the environment by overcoming opposition to accomplish results. Dominant leaders place emphasis on results and the bottom line. They exude confidence and see the big picture, which is an essential trait to every C-suiteWhen faced with unprecedented challenges this year, these outward leaders did not “wait and see” how the pandemic would play out, but rather jumped into action, taking innovative ideas and giving them momentum. From redesigning dining experiences outdoors to creating virtual experiences, there have been countless examples of how business leaders pivoted brilliantly and quickly to keep operations running.  

Lara Smedley, founder of Smedley Events, went from having to cancel dozens of upcoming large group events in March to rebranding and launching a new company merely two months later capitalizing on the empty seats in stadiums across the country. Smedley gave people who would normally attend games a chance to support their favorite teams by paying to fill a seat with a cardboard cutout of themselves 

Consider another example of how GM and Ford paused car production this spring to instead build ventilators. Quickly pivoting business strategy, they met current demand with resources available to them while also bolstering public image. This kind of innovation and agility made a meaningful impact, saving jobs and lives. Leadership within these organizations saw the opportunity to retain their talent, meet demand and serve their struggling community. 



People with the I (Influential) behavior type are enthusiastic, optimistic, talkative, persuasive, impulsive and emotional. This personality type will trust others naturally, and functions best when around people and working in teams. C-suites with influential leaders place emphasis on a company culture of openness, innovation and strong relationships. They show enthusiasm and optimism even in times of crisis and collaborate to solve problems. The more receptive an organization can be to innovation, the more adaptable they are to a changing market. While every layer of an organization may support creativity and innovation, it is an essential characteristic of the C-suite in order to support business growth, serve diverse clientele, and maintain relationships with employees and clients alike. 

&pizza, a Washington, D.C.-based pizza chain, had a founding philosophy of “doing good while being good.” When the pandemic started, the leaders of this pizza chain decided to leverage their culture to serve their community by providing free pies to health workers in hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients. While recognizing how the pandemic might strain their own employees, they also raised workers’ hourly pay and adjusted their benefits (and were creative about it) — for instance, offering free access to Netflix and reimbursing travel to work. The company also gave employees PTO to join various protests in reaction to the social injustices. As a result, the company grew and retained 90% of its employees, improving its traditional turnover rate drastically. 



A person with an S (steady) behavior type is known for being stable and predictable. steady leader places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity and dependability. These leaders help a C-suite approach challenges calmly with a focus on how to support their organization and their people. Steadiness is essential to the C-suite to help balance the strong will and rapid action of other personality types with intentional detail and decision-making.  

Many people change behavior in times of heightened stress, exhibiting certain personality traits more strongly while in crisis mode. A steady leader remains consistent and helps hold the C-suite together during crisis as other personality types are more likely to pull in different directions. Not to say that steady leaders do not adapt to new circumstances, but they do so intentionally and deliberately 

As an example, consider New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response to the pandemic. Within a week of the first COVID-19 cases being confirmed in New Zealand, she delivered a detailed four-level alert system for how the government would step up its response and what would be asked of citizens as infection rates grew. People knew in advance that escalation was coming and could mentally prepare for the changes would happenHer communication was clear, honest, and compassionate, and despite fear that the stringent policies would deter support, her approval rating soared. As a result, the virus was eradicated in New Zealand. 



People with a C (conscientious) behavior type are accurate, precise and detail oriented. They think very analytically and systematically and make decisions carefully with plenty of research and information to back it up. The “C” personality has very high standards for both themselves and others. Leaders who are highly conscientious place emphasis on quality and accuracy and are detailed and objective in their decision making. Within a C-suite, this type of leader helps to balance the innovation and influence of others, challenging each idea with potential risks and outcomes. Especially during crisis, this is an essential trait to company leadership as they predict the future implications of the proposed actions. When it comes to having to make high-stakes decisions under immense pressure, compliant leaders are key.  

Adam Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association, made the choice to suspend the professional basketball league for the season back in March as one of the earliest high-profile responses to COVID-19. While the professional sports industry has never been known for excess caution, his decision showed foresight and reserve, having weighed the consequences of each option carefully and potentially saving over 1 million fans from COVID-19 exposure. 


While we described these four qualities as separate, many accomplished leaders embody more than one of these characteristics. With unpredictable markets and a tumultuous social climate, including each of these traits can help provide stability and resilience in the workforce. We can help you find temporary C-suite leaders who embody these qualities to drive your organizations forward. Get connected with us here.