Exploring leadership through the language of colour: introducing Insights Discovery

By Bernie Divall, Professional Advisor of Leadership on 28 August 2020 Maternity Services Covid-19 Leadership

I was introduced to Insights Discovery, a psychometric profiling tool, when I was working as a lecturer in leadership and management at Newcastle Business School. Now, I should point out that I'm generally somewhat sceptical about such tools, as my previous experiences with Myers-Briggs Type Indicator profiling had been problematic in the sense that I felt 'boxed in' by the analysis. However, students at Newcastle were using Insights Discovery to explore such things as self-awareness, interactions with others, career planning and leadership behaviours, and I quickly recognised the holistic nature of the framework. I undertook the necessary training to become an Insights practitioner, and began using the tool throughout my teaching and coaching practice.

Since my arrival at the RCM last year, I've continued to explore the use of Insights, and it now forms a key element of our leadership offer. The model is based on the work of the psychologist Carl Jung, and uses the idea of four colour energies to represent observable behavioural patterns. These colour energies are seen in all of us in various combinations – we each have a natural preference for some energies over others, and this is what influences our motivations and behaviours. The idea is that by understanding our own and others' preferences, we can develop greater self-awareness and improve our connection with those around us, and as you'll know from what I've written previously, that's the central tenet of contemporary leadership thinking, with its focus on the importance of emotional intelligence. That emphasis on self-awareness also fits well with the RCM's idea that leadership is everybody's business – from a self-leadership perspective, wherever you are in your career or wherever you might want to go in the future, the more you understand about your own motivations and preferences the better.

So, how have we been using Insights in our leadership offer? We've introduced the framework to our new one-day Leading for the Future workshop for final year students and newly qualified midwives, as a means of exploring the transition to registered midwife and supporting potential career thinking. In our six month development programme, Leading for Maternity Improvement, band 6 and 7 midwives use Insights to explore such issues as interpersonal relationships, leading change, and working in teams. Our MSW leadership workshop includes Insights-based activities to support exploration of self-awareness and communication in challenging circumstances. Finally, we've added Insights Discovery to our bespoke offer, where we use it to support specific concerns identified within Trusts and Health Boards.

So far, feedback has been highly positive, with participants identifying benefits to themselves as individuals, but just as importantly in how they approach challenging situations in the workplace. On a personal level, I’ve found it hugely helpful in my RCM role to have my own profile at hand; understanding more about my particular behavioural preferences has helped me focus my energies when developing and delivering our leadership offer, and I’m excited to see how we can further embed Insights into our work, in both real world and virtual environments – more on that in my next blog!