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Creating Successful Leaders

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’m a licensed practitioner of Insights Discovery. Insights is a science-based program, designed to help you become more familiar with your personal preferences, strengths, areas of opportunity, communication preferences, etc. In short, it helps you take a deeper dive into YOU, which, in turn, helps you to better connect with others.

When I guide teams through Insights Discovery, it always amazes me what people learn about each other and what bubbles up to the surface. Sometimes, a person will have a lightbulb moment and realize, for example, that they have been communicating in an ineffective way with someone for years. Maybe Person B prefers straightforward, to-the-point communication, and Person A has always tried to chat with them first before getting to the point. Maybe tension has arisen, and they both had no idea why. Insights can help pinpoint the source of that tension and guide people to take the first steps to alleviate it.

So…where do colors fit in?

Insights uses a simple color wheel to classify different personality types. In short, those with a “red energy” preference tend to be go-getters, results-oriented, and have little tolerance for dilly-dallying. Those who lead with yellow energy are social, enjoy working in teams, and do well with brainstorming sessions. Blue energy folks are driven by data and logic, and they tend to be on the introverted side. People who lead with green energy tend to be highly empathetic, quiet, and want to see everyone included on the team.

These are broad generalizations, of course, and Insights definitely recognizes that people are more complex than a single “color.” That’s why it’s said that an individual “leads with” a certain color. Someone might lead with yellow energy, for instance, but can also have a knack for data analysis (a blue energy trait) and are motivated to see their entire team succeed (a green energy trait).

Insights, in fact, claims that each of us has the capacity to embrace every color. Even if we are not natural “reds,” for instance, we can still whip up that confidence and embrace red energy. That’s because human beings are dynamic, and we have the capability to train ourselves to be more well-rounded.

Let’s not put limits on ourselves.

Instead, I challenge you to try embracing some of the characteristics that do not come naturally to you. If you think a little more self-confidence would serve you well right now, commit to working on that. If you think you could become a tad more social, commit to that. Best of luck on your color journey! Contact me if you’d like a little more guidance on Insights.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Many people I know run at about a mile a minute. They juggle work responsibilities, family, household chores, friendships, cooking, car repairs, and about a million other little things. When they do finally find a moment to themselves, they often spend it in front of the TV, or maybe listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook.

Amid all the action and noise, where is the silence?

Silence is important because it allows us the time and space we need to just think and be present. When we go on a quiet walk or take a shower or drive the car with the radio turned off, we give our minds a much-needed break. These quiet moments allow ideas to germinate and come to life. They are essential to the creative process.

Think about it. How much creativity can you really have during a Zoom meeting? Or when you’re helping out with homework? Or scrambling to put together dinner?

There’s a reason why the advertising agents in the show Mad Men have all their best ideas during “downtime.” When your brain is allowed some peace and quiet, it has the freedom to stretch and travel to places it might not usually go. Entrepreneur Jason Hennessey sets aside an entire day (what he calls “Creative Wednesdays”) for idea generation and creative endeavors. He admits that the idea of devoting a whole day to creativity was daunting at first. He feared that he wouldn’t get all his work done and that deadlines wouldn’t be met. However, he found that his Creative Wednesdays actually made him more productive during the other four days of his workweek. He had more energy and enthusiasm, and he found himself looking forward to his mid-week creative time.

Get Started

You don’t have to dedicate an entire day to quiet, creative time (it’s simply not feasible for many people). However, you can start somewhere. Begin by setting aside fifteen minutes or half an hour every day for quiet journaling, mind mapping, or free writing. If you have a family or housemates, let them know what you’re up to, so they respect your space. Then, find a quiet a room or go for a walk and let the ideas flow!

This may not come naturally at first, but take heart. You’ll soon become accustomed to your designated quiet time. To help ease into this time, you may want to practice free writing. Pick a topic and write whatever comes to mind. Let your thoughts flow in a stream of consciousness. Don’t worry about grammar or complete sentences—just write. You may be surprised by what comes out!

We all need a little more silence in our lives. Try fostering quiet creative time in your life, and see what comes of it.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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be yourself oscar wilde

NOTE: This is an updated post from Oct, 2015.

I sometimes get the question: “Margaret, what is the most important attribute of a good leader?”

This question is a tough one. There are a lot of factors that make up an excellent leader: trust, self-confidence, good communication skills. In fact, I talk about my top ten attributes in my book, the Ten Minute Leadership Challenge. But the one thing at the heart of it all is AUTHENTICITY.

You have to be an authentic leader before anything else. You need to know yourself, your values, how you work, and who you are before you can even consider leading others. Authenticity means having a deep understanding of your inner self and not compromising your deeply held values. Sure, you can adapt to different situations and show different sides of yourself at different times (i.e. a more casual side at home, a more professional side at work), but your core should remain the same.

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How would anyone trust you if you acted like one person sometimes and a completely different person at other times? What would people think if you always agreed with whomever you were speaking, even if their assertions were way off base from what you believe?

Being authentic should be part of your personal brand. Show up, be yourself, and take a genuine interest in those around you.

I have found that authenticity is just as important as ever in the workplace. Employees of all ages and backgrounds look for candid, authentic leadership that they can trust.

Furthermore, with the popularity of social media, your comments and photos are everywhere. Yes, you should be your authentic self on the web, but you should be your BEST authentic self. Let your funny or intellectual or caring side shine!

You’ll find that being your best authentic self is a heck of a lot easier than significantly modifying your behavior and beliefs whenever you’re with a different group of people. When people say, “your reputation proceeds you,” you should know that is a good thing.

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MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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