Do you know your dark sides? – Cautious

Coaching the Cautious scale
The dark sides of personality is measured in the Hogan Development Survey. Know your dark side. Coaching the Cautious.

The Hogan Cautious scale is one of the eleven scales in the Hogan Development Survey (HDS), measuring the dark side of personality.

The Cautious scale measures a person’s tendency to make slow decisions and to have a highly risk-averse mindset. The reluctance to change and aversion to risk can hinder progress and hold back decision-making processes.

On the other hand, individuals who exhibit these traits tend to review plans and proposals critically focusing on avoiding risk. These individuals don’t make dumb mistakes and can be valuable resources in evaluating new initiatives. By anticipating potential problems and planning for them, the organisation can reduce the impact of unexpected events and be more resilient.

In the end, though, while this cautious approach can be beneficial, it can also result in micromanaging staff to prevent them from making mistakes, thus impairing their empowerment and opportunities to grow and learn for themselves, resulting in a team that takes no initiative and second guess themselves, always looking to the leader for answers. It also may result in missed opportunities if the need for acting fast on opportunities is relevant.

The underlying schema is fear of criticism and embarrassment. Many individuals grew up in families where they were criticised and offered inconsistent reasons for appraisal and approval. Having internalised this made the person see criticism or negative feedback as a reflection of their value as a person. Overprotective parents may also contribute to a lack of confidence in confronting the unknown, and individuals may fear being seen as defective or inadequate by others.

If you or someone you’re coaching has been identified as having a derailer in the form of Cautious, several strategies can be used to overcome this tendency and become a more effective leader:

First – Try new things

Embrace the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone. Trying new things and seeking assistance when making risky decisions can be transformative. It’s about gaining confidence and developing a positive outlook towards change. Remember, growth often lies just beyond the boundaries of familiarity.

Second – Remember your wins

Reflect on your past successes and the positive outcomes of your decisions. This exercise is crucial in confronting any fear of criticism and building resilience to negative feedback. By acknowledging your achievements, you reinforce the understanding that calculated risks can lead to success.

Third – Don’t let emotions get the better of you

When assessing risks, ensure a realistic evaluation by keeping emotions in check. Approach decisions with a clear mind, consider worst-case scenarios and rehearse key talking points to prepare for potential challenges. This will help prevent emotions from clouding your judgment.

Fourth – Prioritise with a time limit

To overcome the tendency to hold up progress and avoid making decisions, it is helpful to list issues, prioritise them, and set a timeline for decision-making. This approach prevents unnecessary delays, limits excessive fact-gathering, and ensures progress. Remember, progress often comes from making timely decisions.


Coaching individuals with high scores on the Cautious Scale involves guiding them through practical steps. Encouraging them to try new things, recall past successes, manage emotions effectively, and prioritise decisions within a time limit fosters a balanced and adaptive approach to work. By implementing these coaching strategies, individuals can harness the strengths of their cautious tendencies while embracing change and maintaining productivity.


Dive deeper into the intricacies of your unexplored dark sides or seek expert guidance on refining your coaching strategies – our team are ready to assist you. Reach out to us here, and let’s embark on this journey of growth together.

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