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Tag Archives: Insights Discovery

Every leader has their strengths. You might be an excellent idea-generator or public speaker. Maybe you’re great with details. Or, maybe your team considers you a trusted confidante. Whatever the case, it’s great to celebrate and emphasize your strengths…but it’s also a good idea to identify your areas of opportunity.

No leader is perfect. There is always room for growth. But how can you get started with self-improvement? Isn’t that a bit daunting?

It doesn’t have to be.

By assigning certain personality traits certain colors, it’s easy to identify the areas where you are lacking. That is precisely what the Insights® Discovery program does. According to the Insights® color model, each individual has the capability to embrace and utilize all four color energies, but we typically only emphasize one or two. In essence, the color system breaks down like this:

The basic traits of each Insights personality. Everyone has a little of each color in them!

(For more information on Insights® Discovery, please visit my website!)

So what happens when, as a leader, you don’t tap into each color energy?

You may find that you’re not as well-rounded as you could be. For instance, if you lead with a lot of yellow energy, you may jump into projects feet-first without thinking through all the details. While this is great for motivation and could have positive effects on your team initially, the long-term effects may be disastrous if certain key factors were not taken into consideration (Oh…we needed to get permission from corporate before contacting that client…).

On the flip side, if you lead with a lot of blue energy, you may nit-pick the details to death and have trouble starting a project (let alone drumming up enthusiasm for it).

To examine this idea further, take a look at the following chart. Which areas in YOUR leadership need a boost? How could “Fiery Red” be useful at times? How could green? Yellow? Blue?

Insights Leadership Colors Lacking

Coming from someone who is strongly yellow (with dashes of the other colors), I know the importance of tapping into my “blue side.” How will you call upon your under-utilized colors today?


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I’ve worked with a variety of different teams over the past thirty years, from sales to marketing to creative. Although it’s tempting to gather people together who are like-minded, I’ve found that the most capable, innovative teams are those with a diverse set of perspectives and personalities. When several different personalities are balanced (and everyone has an opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas), teams tend to flourish.

Who to seek out when you’re putting together a team?

Think about personalities from a macro perspective. What are your co-workers like, in general. What are their strengths? What have they accomplished that stand out in your mind? How do they interact with others?

Getting to know your co-workers on a personal level is key to assembling a powerhouse team. The more you know about them, the better equipped you’ll be to compose a well-balanced team. This process, of course, doesn’t happen over night. Take your time building authentic relationships with others and you’ll make a long-term investment in your leadership.

Let’s say you know your co-workers fairly well. What then? Who, exactly, do you want on your team?

A good guide to use is the Insights® Discovery color wheel. This wheel represents the four major personalities we typically find in others, represented by the colors blue, red, yellow, and green. For more on the basics of this remarkable program, please refer to my past blog post on understanding Insights® .

The basic traits of each Insights personality. Everyone has a little of each color in them!

Let’s take a look at the four Insights® colors and how they can contribute to creating a balanced team:

Cool Blue:

Those who tend to embrace the blue quadrant of the Insights® wheel tend to be thoughtful and analytical. They dig into the details of a project, ask probing questions, and help the group to consider many different paths to success. They are typically driven by data and numbers, which can be helpful in many different types of projects.


Those who lead with blue energy may seem quiet or even disengaged. As a group leader, make sure to specifically ask “blues” for their input and make sure they are given ample time to express their views without interruption.

Fiery Red:

Red-energy folks like action. They are usually bold, motivated by progress, and make decisions quickly. “Reds” are often natural leaders and can help carry a conversation, delegate tasks, or make executive decisions when the group is waffling.


When working with red-energy people, make sure their voice is heard and considered, but not over-represented. From time to time, it may be vital to remind reds that the first viable option may not necessarily be the best one and that considering multiple options may save the team time in the long run.

Sunshine Yellow:

Your yellow personalities are the ones who enjoy socialization and teamwork. They work best when they collaborate with others and can talk out their ideas. “Yellows” are crucial to your team’s success in the early stages of a project when brainstorming and idea generation is key. They also have the effect of motivating a team through their bright personalities and high energy.


Throw yellow personalities into any mix of people and they’re bound to stand out as the social leaders. As I mentioned, that’s great for idea-generating and motivation, but make sure they don’t control every step of the process. One step you might take with yellows is to challenge them to get everyone involved during every meeting. Task them with calling upon those who haven’t spoken up in a while.

Earth Green:

Green personalities are vital to the team because they are highly empathetic and caring. This natural propensity for putting themselves in others shoes can help them see the project from the customer’s perspective and think about ways to best serve a company’s client base. They are also good at making sure all perspectives on a team are heard and considered.


Oftentimes, green personalities are quiet—not because they have nothing to say, but because they want to hear others’ perspectives first. Because of this, they sometimes don’t get the opportunity to speak up and share their viewpoint. Make sure to engage your “greens” and let them know that their opinions are valued.


When you create a balanced team, you lay the groundwork for innovation, creativity, and productivity. Although teams with various personalities may clash from time to time, the overwhelming benefits that can be achieved from a balanced team far outweigh the risks. How will you start building your balanced team today?


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A couple months ago, I spent some time teaching the basic principles of Insights® Discovery to some people in a nonprofit leadership program. If you’re not familiar with Insights® Discovery, it’s essentially a program that helps people understand themselves better and, by extension, understand others. Insights® generally helps improve communication, team dynamics, self-confidence, and leadership.

I’ve seen some amazing transformations with inter-person communication and understanding in many organizations, including the nonprofit leadership program I mentioned earlier. When I went to their “graduation party” this past week, I was stunned. The 30 or so individuals that I coached had markedly improved their communication and teamwork and they attributed it to Insights®. In fact, the entire room was decorated with the four Insights® colors (which represent the four distinct “color energies”–more on that HERE).

When the presentation started, many references were made to Insights® and how it has helped their team work together harmoniously to achieve great things. Now, THAT is what every Insights® Licensed Practitioner (like myself) likes to hear!

Could your workplace use a little more cohesiveness and communication? It could be that Insights® Discovery is just the ticket! Let’s talk.


Three benefits that Insights Discovery brings


Gift bags in the color of each person’s leading color energy


Insights-themed masks

The group!

The group!


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inclusivityLast week, I addressed diversity and how it goes beyond physical characteristics and also involves diversity of thought, behavior, and perspective. This week, I’d like to discuss how your diverse workplace can be an inclusive one. First, let’s define what an inclusive workplace looks like.

People in an inclusive workplace…

…feel a sense of belonging, are treated fairly, and have equal opportunities

…feel like they can be themselves and allow others to be themselves

…are fully engaged and part of a team

…remain authentic

The result of inclusivity? Innovation, creative ideas, and fresh ways of looking at things. These are all things any organization wants, but how to achieve them? How can people with widely differing outlooks on life work together harmoniously and accomplish great things?

According to the principles I’ve learned from Insights® Discovery (a tool for understanding and developing unique personalities), inclusion really starts from the top. Company leadership needs to be fully invested in the idea of inclusivity before the rest of the team can truly adopt it. The organization should consider these questions:

  • Does the leadership recognize the diversity of its team?
  • Do they know how to adapt and connect with all the people on their team?
  • Do they know what motivates certain people on their team? Do they know what derails them?
  • Are there open lines of communication in the office?
  • Are questions and concerns addressed or ignored?
  • Does the leadership make an effort to hear from everyone at the table?

Company leadership can facilitate an open, inclusive environment, but it takes the rest of the organization to keep it up on a day-to-day basis. That takes awareness and reflection. We should be asking ourselves questions from time to time like: “How does the work environment feel?” “How comfortable is it for me? For my co-workers?” “Does the minority have a voice in the office?” “Are we encouraged to raise questions or concerns?”

It takes time to build an inclusive environment, but the results are worth it. Each person has the ability to add unique value to the organization, so it’s important to create an environment where that value can come through.

If you’d like to delve into workplace inclusivity in more depth, I encourage you to contact me so we can discuss your organization’s needs. Thanks for reading!

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Whether it’s achieving a personal goal, boosting your business or developing relationships, perhaps the most important ingredient to success in any of these endeavors is consistency.


That’s all well and good, but what does this look like? How do we attain it? In other words, how does a person remain consistent about being consistent?

Widening the parameters

“One of the problems with temptations,” writes professor of psychology Timothy A. Pychyl, “is that they can seem relatively harmless. It seems so reasonable and seductive to conclude that not running ‘just today’ won’t harm our long-term health goals, and that eating that jelly donut won’t ruin our weight-loss goal.”

It’s true, one jelly donut won’t make you fat. But that isn’t the point, is it? A person becomes unhealthy by repeating unhealthy behavior over time. It’s not the one jelly donut, it’s the very many “just one” jelly donuts. By keeping the parameters strictly in the present, we actually make the problem worse.

A solution is to view your actions on a wider time-scale, as links in a chain which create an overall pattern of behavior. With a broader picture of your actions in mind, it becomes clear that “just this one” is really one of a great many. Change the action at the immediate level on a daily basis, and soon you’ll change the pattern entirely.

Consistency reinforces itself

It’s sobering knowing that one bad action leads to a pattern, but the good news is that this works in the reverse too. Since behaviors come in bundles, we can modify a single action every day knowing that this will soon develop into a bigger life pattern. In other words, don’t worry about taking on a huge self-improvement project. Focus on daily actions and feel good about those.

Speaking of which, I’m sure you’ve found that feeling good about your actions is addictive. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: you don’t need to feel guilty about feeling good about yourself! Use it to your advantage.

Consistency reveals character

We’re familiar with the phrase, “actions speak louder than words.” I’m guessing you’ve also experienced that terrible disconnect between your own actions and words. This is the result of a lack of consistency. In an ideal world, what you believe and what you do should line up perfectly. We don’t live in an ideal world, so you can forget about any idea of perfection. But what you can do is work toward consistency between your inner and outer selves. Act on your principles–little things, everyday. Clean up after the messes you’ll inevitably make, apologize for your inconsistencies, but keep forming new links in positive behavior chain.

One link, everyday!


Psychology Today. “More Effective Goal Intentions: Think Width and Consistency.” Accessed May 28, 2013.

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A recent article published in the Harvard Business Review claims that one quality rises above the rest when it comes to great leadership: self-awareness. In the article, titled “How Leaders Become Self-Aware”, author Anthony Tjan poses a question to help us understand what is meant by self-awareness: “What motivates you and your decision making?”

Are you prepared to respond? Unless you have already made practice in self awareness part of your everyday and you’ve taken the assessments and consulted with others, you may struggle to answer Tjan’s question.

Tjan outlines three steps that all of us can take to become better leader in our life. Because I do a lot of work with self-awareness as an Insights Practitioner, I’m always combing through new resources for my coaching when it comes to self-awareness. I thought Tjan’s pointers were spot on and provided some great ideas for improving effectiveness and interactions.

Test and Know Yourself Better

This translates simply to take a personality test. I know it sounds simple (and the process can be as simple as answering questions about yourself for half an hour online, in the case of Insights Discovery), but this quick gesture, when given reflection, can transform the way you work and your relationships with others. Tjan advocates self-assessments because “they facilitate self-reflection, which leads to better self-awareness.”

Watch Yourself and Learn

This step plays out on a more long term scale, but can have big takeaways when done correctly. The process of this step is simple: when making a big decision, always record your reasons for that decision and then revisit these reasons 9-12 months later. What panned out and what didn’t? Tjan labels this practice as feedback analysis and explains that its effectiveness is found in two steps: “a) codify rationale and motivators and b) reflect and assess outcomes.”

Be Aware of Others, Too

Self-awareness is no good if you live alone on an island—the real power of this knowledge reveals itself when you interact with others on a team. “Knowing your natural strengths and weaknesses makes you a better recruiter and allocator of talent,” says Tjan. But this knowledge is most effective when you’re aware of the strengths of those around you, because this results in a group of people who both “understand and complement each other.” A strong team is founded on the diverse approaches and skills of its members, and because these members approach tasks differently, this promotes learning and feedback within the group—it leads to innovation.

Have questions about self-awareness? Feel free to contact me for answers.

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By Margaret Smith, UXL:

I was surprised to discover two really helpful articles in the recent USA Weekend insert written by Stephanie Weaver ( in my Stillwater Gazette. I decided to share some of the most important ideas with my readers.

The first article deals with building a successful business, and offers the key to this success: Build the perfect team. Does it sound like a great solution? Sure. Does it sound like an easy solution? If you’ve ever worked on a team, then your answer is probably a little less definitive.

Have you ever found yourself assigned to a group project at work, and caught yourself dreading it? This is probably because there’s some work to be done not on your project, but on your team. “Team building is a way to be in control of your life.” says Robyn Benincasa, world champion adventure racer and author of How Winning Works: 8 essential leadership lessons from the toughest teams on earth.

Build your team, and gain control of your life. A rather interesting concept, right? I couldn’t help but recognize the truth behind this insight. The less out of control or imbalanced your team is, the more weight each member has, and the more democratic things become.

Benincasa had a wide variety of experiences to thank for such great advice. She left the corporate world to take on expedition-level competitions that ask participants to hike jungles and mountains, cross lava fields and survive rapids.

Who crosses the finish line first is as much about who you’re with as how you train, she says.

Although you may not be inclined to enter the world of extreme sports in search of wisdom, you may be interested in stealing some of her tricks:

Play to the Strengths
Recognize one another’s strengths and weaknesses (we all have them) and tap into them by divvying out tasks accordingly. Leave egos at the door.

Stop the Finger Pointing
Nothing defeats team spirit more than singling out someone’s flaw. All teams—whether work or personal—are built on respect.  “Lead by strength, not title”, and squash any negative remarks as soon as they come up.

Take Benincasa’s Test
Do you look at people as potential competitors or potential teammates? If you’re trying to compete, flip a mental switch. The world is full of potential teammates.

After reading great teambuilding tips from a revered adventurer, I decided to consider the challenge of teambuilding with my own set of tools and experiences. About a year and a half ago, I discovered a personal assessment tool that’s brought teambuilding to a whole new, easy to understand level:  Insights Discover.

Insights Discovery is a great tool for building team respect and eliminating competition. The program does this by helping teams to recognize the value and skills that each person offers, no matter how different they from you. A well-balance team is the key to seeing all perspectives and getting work done on time with reduced conflict and stress. If you’d like to explore the benefits of Insights for your work group, please contact me today.

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