Picture of Jay McSwain
Jay McSwain

Founder & President
PLACE Ministries

Personality and Situational Leadership

Is situational leadership and situational ethics the same? I would submit they are not the same thing and in leading others and you should be careful in applying situational ethics to your leadership style. However, I do believe you should practice situational leadership that is fleshed out through personality.

I was speaking at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting at Anderson University and was asked to speak on “The Gospels and Leadership” and specifically about the leadership of Jesus in the gospels.


Before pointing out how Jesus was a situational leader let me define situational ethics.  Wikipedia defines situational ethics as taking “into account the particular context of an act when evaluating it ethically, rather than judging it according to absolute moral standards.”  This article is not about situational ethics, but situational leadership as it relates to the DISC personalities, so let me get right to the point.

Jesus-The “D” Situational Leader

“D” personalities are decisive and quick to take action especially when they sense what is taking place is wrong.  Jesus in Matthew 21:12-13 is definitely a “D” personality when he goes into the temple and overturns the tables of the money changes who were making “the house of prayer,… a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13).

Jesus-The “I” Situational Leader

“I” personalities are able to inspire and influence others to engage with their message.  While Jesus certainly performed a miracle in feeding the 5,000 men plus women and children in Matthew 14:13-21 he also demonstrated the “I” personality when inspired that many people to come and desire to listen to his message.

Jesus-The “S” Situational Leader

“S” personalities are passionate about coming alongside and being an advocate for those who have made mistakes and are being mistreated by others.  In John 8:1-11 a woman was caught in adultery and Jesus came to her defense as those accusing her wanted to stone her.  Jesus did not approve of her sin, but forgave her and encouraged her to leave her life of sin.

Jesus-The “C” Situational Leader

“C” personalities are able to organize and bring structure where structure is needed to accomplish goals and tasks.  Again, while a miracle took place in Matthew 14:13-21 in the feeding of the 5,000 men plus women and children there had to be organization provided to get the food to all those gathered to hear Jesus speak.  Jesus took his disciples and used the “C” personality in organizing them to pass out the food to those He was speaking to at the Sea of Galilee.

So, Here’s The Takeaway

Yes, you most likely have certain situations where you excel based upon your specific DISC personality type. However, when God puts you in leadership situations where you are not as natural in fulfilling roles and responsibilities recognize what personality traits (“D”-driven, “I”-inspiring, “S”-advocating for or “C”-organizing) are needed. After you recognize what personality leadership style is need then ask God through His Holy Spirit to empower you to fulfill the role as a situational leader.

Serving Him Together,