by N. Purcell | June 27, 2023 | 3 Min Read

Disc Vs CliftonStrengths: Leveraging Personal Assessments in Learning and Development



In the complex realm of learning and development, assessments like DISC and CliftonStrengths have become instrumental in understanding employees' distinct behavioral styles, and individual talents. Here's a comparative analysis of both tools and how they can be used in various facets of employee development.


DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on William Moulton Marston's theory which centers on four different personality traits: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C).

  • Dominance (D) is related to control, power and assertiveness. Dominant individuals tend to be direct, results-oriented, firm, and strong-willed. They prefer to lead, rather than follow.
  • Influence (I) is related to social situations and communication. Influential people are expressive, optimistic, outgoing, and enthusiastic. They like working in teams and motivating others.
  • Steadiness (S) is related to patience, persistence, and thoughtfulness. Steady individuals are even-tempered, accommodating, patient, and humble. They enjoy routines and stability.
  • Conscientiousness (C) is related to structure and organization. Conscientious individuals are analytical, reserved, precise, private, and systematic. They enjoy planning, data, and analysis.

DISC has been used in a myriad of settings, including organizational development, leadership training, sales training, and team building. It is a simple, practical, and easy-to-remember model, contributing to its widespread adoption. By 2021, millions of people have used DISC assessments for self-understanding, job placement, hiring, and team development.

The primary purpose of DISC is to help individuals understand their behavioral style, and how their behaviors may be perceived by others. Its accuracy is generally high, though this may vary depending on the individual's self-awareness and honesty in responding.


CliftonStrengths, also known as StrengthsFinder, was developed by Gallup and psychologist Don Clifton. It identifies a person's unique sequence of 34 themes of talent. These themes are divided into four domains:

  • Executing: These individuals know how to make things happen. They are often those who you turn to get a project done.
  • Influencing: These people know how to take charge, speak up, and make sure the team is heard.
  • Relationship Building: These individuals have the ability to build stronger relationships that can hold a team together and make it greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Strategic Thinking: Those strong in Strategic Thinking themes help teams consider what could be. They absorb and analyze information that can inform better decisions.

The intent of CliftonStrengths is to focus on developing and leveraging individuals' strengths, rather than improving their weaknesses. As of this writing, more than 30 million people have completed the CliftonStrengths assessment, and it's used by 90% of Fortune 500 companies.

Use Them Together:

While DISC and CliftonStrengths both aim to provide insights into individuals' personality traits and tendencies, they serve different purposes. DISC focuses on understanding a person's behavior in different situations, while CliftonStrengths is more about harnessing a person's natural talents for their success. Therefore, they can be effectively used in tandem to offer a more holistic view of an individual.


Let's look at the benefits and outcomes each tool offers and how they compare:

  1. Establishing Employee Training Plans:

Both Provide the Following Benefits & Outcomes:

  • Personalized approach to employee training plans.
  • Enhanced engagement and retention of training content.
  • Accelerated skill development.

Differentiating Impacts:

  • DISC: DISC's emphasis on behavioral styles can lead to an improved understanding of the learning styles within a team, allowing for the tailoring of training methods to suit individual needs.
  • CliftonStrengths: By focusing on individual talents, CliftonStrengths encourages employees to develop their strengths further, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
  1. Onboarding & Employee Orientation:

Both Provide the Following Benefits & Outcomes:

  • Accelerated integration of new hires.
  • Enhanced understanding of the new hires' roles and contributions.
  • Increased job satisfaction and engagement from the onset.

Differentiating Impacts:

  • DISC: By understanding the behavioral styles of new hires, teams can align better, set appropriate expectations, and communicate more effectively.
  • CliftonStrengths: It provides immediate insight into a new hire's strengths and potential contributions, promoting faster alignment with team and organizational goals.
  1. Sales Training:

Both Provide the Following Benefits & Outcomes:

  • Improved sales performance.
  • Enhanced understanding of customer needs and behaviors.
  • Greater employee confidence in sales roles.

Differentiating Impacts:

  • DISC: DISC can guide sales teams to adapt their communication style to better suit their clients' behavioral style, improving customer relationships.
  • CliftonStrengths: By identifying individual talents in sales roles, such as Relationship Building or Influencing, sales training can be tailored to enhance these strengths. There is a CliftonStrengths for Sales Report that aligns top talent themes with sales roles.
  1. Leadership Training:

Both Provide the Following Benefits & Outcomes:

  • Enhanced leadership effectiveness.
  • Improved team management and cohesion.
  • Increased employee engagement and motivation.

Differentiating Impacts:

  • DISC: DISC can provide valuable insights into a leader's behavioral style, helping them adapt their approach to the diverse needs of their team members.
  • CliftonStrengths: It helps leaders identify their unique strengths and how to leverage these to inspire and motivate their teams. There are CliftonStrengths reports specifically designed to help managers and leaders align their talents to the challenges inherent in their roles.

In summary, while both DISC and CliftonStrengths offer significant benefits and outcomes in the realm of learning and development, each provides unique insights and impacts that can be leveraged in various ways to enhance employee training, onboarding, sales training, and leadership development.

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