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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Margaret Smith licensed Insights practitioner

One of the wonderful things about humanity is that we’re all so different, and we embody many different traits. Our distinct personalities can lead to powerful innovations, creative solutions, and out-of-the-box thinking. But it can also lead to conflicts, clashing, and misunderstandings. Have you ever tried to assign a highly collaborative leadership task to an extreme introvert? Or asked a “numbers person” to lead a creative brainstorming session.

It can be beneficial, of course, to stretch our abilities and challenge ourselves to reach outside our comfort zones. However, everyone has their limits. A social person who thrives on interpersonal interactions and teamwork can only take solo data entry work for so long. Soon, they’ll be miserable and, possibly, looking for an exit.

As a leader, it’s smart to identify your team members’ strengths and capitalize on them. Develop an understanding of their strengths by doing the following:

1. Ask them directly what they excel at, what they enjoy doing, and what their goals are. You might be surprised by how quickly people open up when talking about these topics.

2. Turn to a trustworthy assessment test for guidance. As an LP of Insights Discovery, I’m a big proponent of the Insights program. Rooted in social science, Insights Discovery identifies four key personality types (Cool Blue, Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Earth Green) and outlines their inherent strengths and weaknesses. This can be used as a starting point to understand each individual’s potential. For more information, see my past blog post on Insights.

3. Observe each person on the job. What tasks do they excel at? How do they respond to different situations? Do they seem energized or drained after certain tasks? Taking note of these cues can help you better understand how to delegate tasks for maximum efficiency.

4. Listen to your team members’ feedback. They may have ideas on how they can best contribute to the team’s goals. They may be frustrated with processes or tasks they feel they are over- or under-qualified for. Address these issues and strive to create an environment in which everyone can utilize their strengths.

Once you’ve determined each team member’s strengths, you can start assigning tasks and roles that challenge and inspire. Letting team members play to their strengths can lead to greater satisfaction, higher morale, and better team performance. As a leader, it’s vitally important to recognize everyone’s unique gifts, and use them to drive the team forward and foster a more motivated, happier team.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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“Know thyself” is an adage that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years. This may seem fairly straightforward (“Surely, I know myself better than anyone!”), but that’s often not the case. For one thing, how often do we actually spend time reflecting about ourselves, our perspectives, the way we process information, or the way we interact with others? For most people, these actions are unconscious. We move through the world without thinking about how we move through it.

Programs such as Insights® Discovery challenge us to sink deeper into our internal worlds and become better acquainted—or reacquainted—with ourselves. I use Insights® as an example because I’m a Licensed Practitioner of Insights® Discovery, but many other similar programs exist that help us drill down into the core of our being—StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, Myers-Briggs (informed by the findings of acclaimed psychiatrists Carl Jung, whose work is also the basis of Insights®).

These programs are valuable for helping us understand our personal tendencies, the unique ways we view the world and process information, how we interact with and relate to others, and the work that is best suited to our personalities. All of these findings are valuable for a number of reasons. In my Insights® sessions, people have made a variety of breakthroughs, ranging from clarifying their career paths to developing a better understanding of their strengths and areas of improvement.

Not only are breakthroughs possible, it’s also likely that everyday skills, systems, or functions will improve. One area that often improves is productivity.

How is productivity related to self-discovery? I can think of at least three links:

1. Communication Improves

The more you understand about your own and others communication preferences, the better you’ll be able to facilitate effective communication. For instance, if someone prefers direct communication, keep that in mind next time you have a meeting with that person. Don’t beat around the bush, and do your best to convey precisely what you mean.

On the other side of the coin, if you discover that you prefer indirect communication (an email or a voicemail) so you can think over your options before responding, make your preference clear. The next time someone calls on you during a meeting, say something to the effect of, “I would love to give you my thoughts once I’ve had time to mull them over. I tend to make better decisions once I’ve had time to analyze my options.”

2. Teamwork Improves

When a team goes through Insights® Discovery or a similar assessment program, they gain a deeper understanding of how each other operates. They learn that Maddie’s social tendencies shine during group work or team brainstorming sessions…but she can get frustrated or bored when asked to work alone. They learn that Max prefers direct communication and would rather talk candidly about an issue right away, rather than going through pleasantries or background information.

The team will also have access to a common language. For those who have been through Insights®, they might say, “That’s my yellow energy shining through!” Or, “I’m going to have to think about all this–you know how blue-energy folks love to analyze things!”

3. Suitability Improves

Far too often, we try to fit square pegs into round holes in the workplace. Once a team has undergone an assessment (and has had some subsequent coaching), it will become apparent who is content and well-suited to their current role, and who could use a shift. Perhaps someone is currently tasked with leading a group project, but would strongly prefer a background/support role. That discontentment will probably bubble to the surface when the team learns about each other’s work and communication preferences.

Learning about yourself on a deeper level is not just great for personal improvement, it’s highly valuable for improving team dynamics. If everyone on a work team took the same assessment test (preferably one that’s backed by science and has a proven track record), they would gain a more meaningful understanding of each other’s thought processes, communication preferences, and personalities. And they would also gain a common language to express these differences and distinctions.

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. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE.

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We’re told to “make hay when the sun shines,” but what if the sun never comes out? What if conditions remain overcast, at best? Sometimes, we have to adapt, re-strategize, and move forward anyway. Sometimes, we simply have to act.

Rarely will conditions be 100 percent perfect. If you’re looking for an excuse to put something off, chances are you’ll find it. There’s always a reason to not take on that challenging work project, write your novel, have a child, travel abroad, start your own business…the list goes on. Sometimes, you just have to jump in with both feet and figure things out as you go.

Additionally, it’s impossible to plan for every bump in the road. You will run into unexpected obstacles, experience temporary setbacks and all-out failures, and take unexpected twists. When this happens, it’s import to roll with the punches and adopt a growth mindset (more on growth mindsets in last week’s post).

When you’re on the brink of a major decision or action, try to keep the following 8 tidbits in mind:

  • Progress is not achieved through inaction.
  • You can still succeed if conditions are not perfect.
  • Others have risen above adversity when the odds were stacked against them. For example: After someone stole his shoes, Native American track and field legend, Jim Thorpe, found two shoes (of different sizes) in a trash bin, put them on, and won two Olympic gold medals.
  • No one achieves greatness or makes positive change through inaction.
  • Your actions don’t have to be unsupported. Leverage whatever resources (others’ expertise, databases, classes, grants, a mentor’s advice, etc.) are at your disposal.
  • You are adaptable and resilient enough to overcome adversity or setbacks.
  • Inaction is often just an excuse; don’t give in to your fears!
  • It’s okay to figure things out as you go.

If you are delaying taking action on something, I urge you to ask yourself why. Face your trepidations, strategize as best you can, and jump in! You’ll rarely find the perfect conditions to act, so you might as well plow ahead using whatever resources are available. Even if things don’t turn out as expected, you can still hold your head high knowing you had the courage to act.

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. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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