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Tag Archives: Margaret Smith LP of Insights

The business world can be cutthroat at times. For years, I worked with sales teams at 3M, leading people whose pay and reputation relied on their sales performance. With competitions and high expectations driving them, the sales professionals felt quite a bit of pressure to outshine others.

Fortunately, I worked with congenial groups of people who did not throw others under the bus, but usually functioned as a cohesive unit. Other teams, I know, are not so fortunate. Some will do whatever it takes to gain a promotion, win a competition, or make themselves look better than their colleagues. And this isn’t just limited to sales teams—this level of competitiveness can be found in all industries, at all levels of the company. Whenever there is something to be gained by trampling others, people will, unfortunately, do it.

This type of ruthless competitiveness can create an atmosphere of tension and distrust. People are constantly watching their backs, and are hesitant to open up to co-workers or leaders. Additionally, when competitiveness reigns, there is little room for non-performance-based initiatives (improving interpersonal communication, trying out new ideas, beta-testing a new product). Competitiveness means stomping on the accelerator and not stopping to consider alternative paths or potential innovations.

Instead of competing with co-workers, I’m a proponent of collaboration and encouragement. When you remove the competitive component, you start to function as a cohesive team (and, as we all know, many heads are better than one). There is a reason workplaces are comprised of many different people with myriad responsibilities and perspectives—we’re meant to work together, brainstorm, collaborate, and make improvements.

Additionally, when workplaces move from an atmosphere of competitiveness to one of affirmation and support, people just might enjoy going to work—imagine that! An article by Harvard Business Review says that, “Employees who report having friends at work have higher levels of productivity, retention, and job satisfaction than those who don’t.”

Instead of fostering a highly competitive environment, it’s time companies shift their focus to interpersonal relationships and dynamics. As a leader, you can help build community in your workplace team in many different ways. Try throwing brief “get to know you” activities into your team meetings (your favorite food, dream vacation, any upcoming trips or events). Or enroll your people in a coaching program, such as Insights® Discovery, which is team-oriented and known to create lasting changes. Or, occasionally plan an activity, outing, or retreat for the team. You could present a few ideas and let people vote on their favorite one (so they have a voice in the planning process and are invested in the idea).

No matter how you decide to build community and amiability among team members, it’s important that it happens. While some amount of competitiveness isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it should not come at the expense of team unity and satisfaction. As a leader, you have the power to influence team cohesiveness, facilitate friendships, and encourage collaboration instead of competition.

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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With the release of my new eBook (A Quick Guide to Courage), I’m writing a series of blog posts about courage this month. Enjoy!

Not long ago, I met with a coaching client who was pretty sure she was going to lose her job. Her company had been losing business lately, and they were beginning to lay people off at all levels of the organization. She was fairly high up on the company’s org chart, but she knew cuts were being made in her department. So, she began preparing for the worst.

As part of her preparations, we talked about leveraging her severance package. Leaving a company can feel awkward, and many people are tempted to scoot out the door as quickly as possible!

However, it is actually the perfect time to be bold in your negotiations.

After all, what do you have to lose?

My coaching client and I talked about five things she could ask for in her severance package, including funds for outplacement coaching, healthcare benefits for several months, and a payout for her accumulated paid time off (PTO). We roleplayed the scenario, and my client was able to practice her asks.

Even though this is an intimidating and uncomfortable situation for many people, preparation and practice can help boost your confidence and give you that extra shot of courage you might need. To me, preparation is one of the most important aspects of the 5 P’s of Courage, since it can help you anticipate possible scenarios and consider ways to deal with them.

Another way to boost your confidence in a nerve-wracking situation such as this one is to come up with a positive, affirming mantra and repeat it to yourself whenever you’re feeling timid or unsure of yourself.

This mantra should be short and empowering, such as:

  • I am worthy and deserve respect.
  • My ideas are important and my thoughts are valuable.
  • I deserve a place at the table.
  • I am strong, confident, and my voice will be heard.

You could also ask yourself: “What’s the worst that could happen?” I address this question in a recent blog post (read more about it HERE), and encourage people to use their imaginations to picture both the worst-case and best-case scenarios. Then, think about the scenario that is most likely, which will probably land somewhere in the middle of worst-case and best-case.

Not long after I worked with my client on her severance package asks, another person approached me with a similar situation…except she had already been presented with a severance package and had not negotiated the terms. She had been too shocked and unprepared to do so. This upset her, because she knew she deserved a better package than what her company had offered.

I asked her, “Why don’t you call up the leadership team and ask to renegotiate?”

“I couldn’t,” she said. “What’s done is done.”

“Maybe so, but maybe not,” I said. “What’s the worst that could happen if you picked up the phone and simply asked?”

Reluctantly, she agreed that nothing catastrophic would happen by asking for what she wanted. After going over the items she wanted to add to the severance package, she made her phone call. And, guess what? Her company agreed to her requests!

Through preparation and reframing the situation (What’s the worst that could happen?), she had the courage to ask for what she wanted. And you can do the same.

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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If you’ve been following my blog or are familiar with my business, you’ll know that I am a licensed practitioner of Insights Discovery. Insights is a science-based program that is meant to develop self-awareness and improve interpersonal relationships and communication.

Unlike many other assessment programs, Insights uses simple, approachable language to discuss prominent traits in individuals. The Insights color wheel is divided into four colors (red, yellow, green, and blue), each other describing the characteristics of a specific personality type. For example, those who lead with red energy tend to prefer direct communication and rapid action. Those who lead with blue energy tend to be more analytical and like to mull over all options before proceeding.

If you’re not familiar with Insights, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute! That seems like an oversimplification of someone’s personality. Can we all really be reduced to four different personality types?!”

You’re absolutely right.

It’s impossible to fit all people into four neat boxes. That’s why Insights Discovery emphasizes the fact that people’s personalities are multi-colored, and most of us can tap into all the colors on the Insights color wheel. Those who are mostly “red” have the ability to tamp down their natural impulsiveness and embrace their analytical “blue side.” Those who are mostly “blue” can tap into their “inner red” and make snap decisions in a pinch.

Not only that, we might fluctuate from day to day. Those with “sunny yellow” personalities might have days when they’re feeling less social and more introverted. It’s normal and natural to have a dynamic personality that changes from time to time.

That’s why Insights uses the term “leads with” to describe someone’s tendencies. Someone who “leads with” yellow energy is often extroverted, social, and enjoys working with teams, but they may also have a strong blue side that compels them to be analytical as well.

Humans are dynamic. We can adapt to certain groups and settings. That doesn’t mean we’re disingenuous; it simply means that specific situations require us to behave in certain ways. Understanding the Insights color wheel and our ability to embrace other colors is empowering. We’re not stuck in a personality rut—we can grow, adapt, and change when we need to. Not only that, we can actively work on developing other colors of our personality if we feel one or more are lacking. For instance, someone who leads with red energy can attempt to build their empathy and patience by tapping into their inner green energy.

Which colors are prominent in your personality? Which traits would you like to develop? The Insights Discovery color wheel can help! Get in touch if you’d like to learn more.

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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