Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.  —Carl Jung

He had affairs. He was into alchemy. He was even buddies with Sigmund Freud. We're talking about Carl Jung, aka the most interesting person to ever come out of Switzerland.

Jung's impact on the world is hard to overstate: he founded analytical psychology, created the collective unconscious, the archetype, and personality types extraversion vs. introversion (remember that Myers-Briggs test you took in high school?)

Even art wasn't off limits: Jung's teachings inspired the iconography and mythical figures found in some of Jackson Pollock's best art in the late 1940s. He was also an early proponent of art therapy for psychological healing.  #renaissanceman

But what does any of this have to do with leadership?

A lot. Particularly when it comes to understanding other people. Why? People are the pulsing lifeblood of leadership. If you don't understand people, your chances of becoming an effective leader are slim to none. 

Of the countless derivative works attributed to Jung, one of the most impressive—and practical—is the Insights Discovery. Had Jung lived to be 118 years of age, he would have witnessed the founding of The Insights Group in 1993. They are the creators of Insights Discovery which draws heavily from Jung's framework and abstracts complexity through the creative use of COLOR.

Wait, what is Insights Discovery?

Insights Discovery is a professional personality assessment that takes about 30 minutes to complete and costs $150. Honestly, its the best $150 you'll ever spend. 

Why is it valuable?

Because you will learn about yourself, your "preference", your strengths, your blind spots, and how OTHER COLORS might perceive you—and how you can communicate better with them. In addition to learning, the program also suggests actionable next steps.

Enough context building. Let's get to the actual colors and what they mean:

This is the Insights Discovery Wheel. There are four colors [you: thanks Sherlock]:

  • Fiery Red: Let's do it now!
  • Sunshine Yellow: Let's do it together
  • Earth Green: Let's do it in a caring way
  • Cool Blue: Let's do right

Other important characteristics to note:

  • Right half of wheel: Extroversion (Red & Yellow)
  • Left half of wheel: Introversion (Blue & Green)
  • Top half of wheel: Thinking (Blue & Red)
  • Bottom half of wheel: Feeling (Green & Yellow)

Okay, so you take the assessment and you get a dominant color. Mine, for example, is red. But humans aren't 1-dimensional beings and, as Jung would attest, we have layers of conscious vs. unconscious complexity. So all of us have actually have all four colors, but in very different mixes. We have a natural "preference" for some color(s), and make an effort to "dial up" some color(s) within the dichotomy of our unconscious and conscious, respectively.

Here are what the colors are like on a bad day vs. a good day:

As mentioned, I am a RED dominant type. If I don't make a point to be self-aware and manage my own tendencies, I may come off as aggressive, controlling, driving, overbearing and/or intolerant. These are terrible things for a leader to be viewed as.

On a good day, my "Fiery Red" nature is competitive, demanding, determined, strong-willed, and purposeful—traits of a great leader which I aspire to be.

Putting this into action

Step 1: take the assessment (ideally with your whole department or team)

Step 2: learn

Specifically, learning what NOT to do was super helpful for me. As my father used to say, sometimes the best decisions are the ones you DON'T make. Insights gives you a blueprint on what to avoid per color. For example:

YELLOW - Do not:

  • Bore then with details
  • Tie them down with routine
  • Ask them to work in solitude

BLUE - Do not:

  • Be overemotional or exaggerate
  • Be careless or casual with important issues
  • Keep changing things without good reasons

GREEN - Do not:

  • Take advantage of their good nature
  • Push them to make quick decisions
  • Tell, instruct, or command

RED - Do not:

  • Hesitate or be indecisive
  • Focus on feelings
  • Try to take over

It gets better. Here are some "Do's" for each color:

YELLOW - Do:

  • Be friendly and sociable
  • Be engaging and stimulating
  • Be open and flexible

BLUE - Do:

  • Be well prepared and thorough
  • Put things in writing
  • Let them consider all the details

GREEN - Do:

  • Be patient and supportive
  • Ask for their input before making a decision
  • Ask their opinion and give them time to answer

RED - Do:

  • Be direct and to the point
  • Focus on the results and stimulating
  • Be confident and assertive

Conclusion

"Colorful leadership" can help you become a more effective leader by 1) having a deeper appreciation for the true nature of other people, 2) having a deeper understanding of yourself, and 3) putting that perspective into action.