Behavioral Scale Deep Dive: Low Submissiveness

Submissiveness: The desire to conform & defer to others. 

Do you delight in competition? Are you often the most tenacious one at the table? If so, you may be a low scorer in submissiveness. Let’s take a look at the behavioral traits of someone with a low score in submissiveness and what managers can do to best encourage their growth. 

Low Submissiveness

Meet Sarah. Sarah doesn’t easily give into other’s view points and loves a good argument. She’s not afraid to take risks and likes to push back against other’s ideas. She’s currently part of a group project at work and gets frustrated when the other people on her team don’t make quick decisions or take control. She would much rather run the roost than allow others to be in charge and often positions herself to take over situations in order to get tasks done.

Sarah is a good example of someone who likely has a low submissiveness score. She:

  • Is tenacious
  • Delights in competition, a “good argument” and “worthy” opponents
  • Is an adventurous risk taker
  • Can be rebellious and non-conforming
  • Will “get it done no matter what”
  • Tends to make decisions quickly and is capable of “grinding it out with the best of them”
  • Can be quite stubborn and obstinate at times
  • Prefers to be in control

Tips for Managing High Scorers

Although low scorers in submissiveness are tenacious and determined competitors, sometimes their stubborn preference to dominate situations can have negative consequences in their personal and work life.  Because of these tendencies, low scorers in submissiveness can be hard to cooperate with in group settings and their dominant nature can often drown out their more submissive counterparts.

Whether you’re a manager of a low submissiveness scorer who is a more dominant employee, or wanting to learn how to better understand a colleague’s behavior, here are some ideas on how to effectively manage this behavioral trait. 

  • Defensiveness keeps them from listening well and
    thereby avoiding the pitfalls that other, more cautious and conservative individuals may clearly see.
  • Encourage them to understand that teamwork, a spirit of give and take,
    creates the best results. Healthy relationships involve moving between being in charge and allowing others to be in charge.
  • Call them Out (Nicely) when they’re dominating a meeting. By calling them out directly (i.e; “I know you want to say something, but we need to hear everyone’s opinion first)  it can help them become aware of when they’re doing that, and help avoid frustration from other employees.
  • Encourage them to solicit and carefully listen to the opinions, viewpoints and advice of others. Many mistakes can be avoided in “a multitude of counsel.”
    • If you’re leading a meeting and an employee with a low-submissiveness score is completely dominating the conversation, redirect the conversation and call on other employees by name to give their thoughts. One technique is to use something they said as a jumping off point and spin it positively. For example, cut in and say, “John, I like what you said about _____.  Craig, what do you think?”  This will help the more submissive, less dominant employees feel valued and discreetly remind the dominant employee that their team’s opinions matter too.
  • Challenge, risk, change, freedom, minimal management and power motivate the low scorer in Submissiveness. By giving them challenging projects, you can keep low scorers in submissiveness engaged and working toward a rewarding goal, while also showing them that you’re invested in their professional growth. 
  • Encourage them to occasionally let others have their way.

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