Skip to content

UXL Blog

Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Margaret Smith licensed Insights practitioner

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I frequently refer to Insights Discovery. For those who haven’t seen my posts about Insights, here’s a quick summary: It’s a science-based program that is meant to improve team dynamics, leadership, communication, and more through gaining personal insights and building self-awareness. (For more, read this blog post about Insights). One key factor of the Insights program is leadership.

Leadership is closely tied to Insights Discovery because the best leaders are those who have a strong understanding of themselves and their leadership tendencies. These are the leaders who also understand their team and how to communicate and inspire them. To cultivate this type of leader, Insights has designed a proprietary Transformational Leadership program.

What is a transformational leader?

To me, a transformational leader is someone who is both motivating and empowering. This a leader who has their team’s back and will stand up for them. A transformational leader believes in communication, clarity, and transparency. They believe in people over profit.

Perhaps Bernard Bass and Ronald Riggio, authors of Transformational Leadership, said it best: “Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers’ needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization.”

Great leadership, however, is not always about inspiration and rallying the team. It can also involve engaging in tough (but necessary) conversations, creating an accountability system, or sticking to firm standards. When it comes to tough conversations, Insights has developed a model called the D4 Model to guide leaders through both appreciative (“Here is what’s going right”) and developmental (“Here’s what needs to improve) feedback. By leaning on basic Insights principles, the D4 Model helps leaders deliver empathetic, specific, and urgent feedback.

In my experience, successful organizations are carried by effective leaders. These leaders are passionate and visionary, and yet down to earth. Above all, they care. How could transformational leadership improve your organization and help you achieve your goals?


Tags: , , , , , , ,

As your workplace begins to reopen its doors, you’ll probably be met with a variety of emotions and perspectives. Some people (the extroverted, yellow-energy-leading folks) may be thrilled at the prospect of working with others face-to-face. Others may dread returning to the office and are able to be much more productive at home. Still others fall somewhere in between—they enjoy the flexibility of having a choice to work from home or come into the office, and they want to maintain control over their schedule.

With such a wide range of opinions and points of view, it might seem like an impossible feat to make everyone happy. You can, however, take steps to achieve the best possible setup for the majority of your team members.

Start with these 7 tips:

1. Get Employee Feedback

Involve as many people as you can in the planning process. That doesn’t mean putting together a 100-person Zoom meeting where everyone shouts their opinions! What it DOES mean is surveying or talking with people on a one-on-one basis and gathering information. Ask open-ended questions and encourage candid responses. Some questions might include:

  • What would be an ideal work setup for you?
  • What excites you about returning to the office? What are you dreading?
  • What steps can we take in the office to make sure you feel safe?
  • How can we support you and the rest of the team to make this transition as smooth as possible?

2. Review Your Communication Tools

This past year, we’ve had to get creative and adapt to new forms of communication. As we begin to return to the office, some people may continue to embrace these new communication methods, while others will be eager to return to the old methods. It’s a good idea to see if people are burnt out on virtual chats, or if they don’t mind them. For some, virtual communication is more welcoming and accessible (some services provide captioning options, for instance), while others might be better able to read body language and mood in a face-to-face setting. It’s possible that your communication methods will be somewhat of a hybrid, with occasional virtual meetings interspersed between in-person ones.

3. Maintain Team-Building Efforts

Many teams have gotten creative over quarantine time with virtual happy hours, check-ins, or online team games. It would be a shame to lose those team-building activities once you’ve all returned to the office. Make an effort to stay connected as a team, and keep engagement high, even as we return to the physical workplace.

4. Stock up on Patience and Flexibility

Protocols and practices may change over time. New information and changing conditions will require additional shifts and plenty of patience. It’s important that you practice flexibility and be a role model for others. Convey that things are bound to continuing changing and evolving. This doesn’t reflect incompetence, but a willingness to learn and improve as circumstances change or new developments are brought to light.

5. Be a Source of Joy

One of the best ways to make the transition smoother is by finding ways to make it better for others.  Create a sense of lightheartedness—the unexpected delights of working from home, the mishaps that took place that cracked you up. Show sensitivity to those still working from home and do whatever you can to help them feel included. When you make an effort to be cheerful and buoyant, others will follow suit. Even when things are tough, this type of attitude will help get you into problem-solving mode instead of “woe is me” mode.

6. Stay Focused on the Bigger Story

There will be bumps in the road. There will be difficult stretches of days (or weeks!). That’s inevitable. Instead of getting hung up on small setbacks or difficult events, it pays to focus on the big picture. How can you move forward? What can you do to best serve your team and keep them safe? What are the main goals for this year? By taking a step back and examining the bigger story, you can gain a better perspective when it comes to dealing with everyday annoyances or snags.

7. Manage Expectations

Unless you have a crystal ball, you can’t know what lies ahead. Make sure you convey to your team that you’ll all need to be flexible and roll with the punches for the foreseeable future. Procedures and operations may change (possibly multiple times), and it will take a good amount of teamwork and positive attitudes to move forward. Even though we can’t always manage situations, we CAN manage our response to them.

The transition back to the workplace will inevitably be laden with bumps and obstacles…but it will also present possibilities. This is an opportunity to reinvent the workplace so it is better and more inclusive than before. Keep that in mind as you go forward, and remember to be as open and honest with your team as possible. You’ve got this!


Tags: , , , , ,

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.


Tags: , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: