Why the Best Leaders aren’t Colour Blind

Why the Best Leaders aren’t Colour Blind
July 24, 2015 Rachel Stanton

Responsive, passionate, industrious, analytical and flexible.

Red, green, blue and yellow.

Five words and four colours that sum up my leadership thinking style according to The Whole Brain Thinking Model measured by the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI).1

If you’re like me, and you find out that during a two day leadership course you are set to attend you are going to learn about what makes you tick, how you land on others and what you can do to adapt – you’d be both intrigued and a little unsure.

What if how I think I am isn’t how I am at all?

If you’re a blue, you’re solutions driven, everything is black and white, and you are analytical and strategic. You’re driven by facts, respond to credibility and your trust needs to be earned.

Brilliant minds like Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein the group agreed were blues.

If you’re a dominant red, you’re interpersonal, team orientated, and culturally savvy, you have empathy and are responsive to others. You respond to authenticity and your trust does not need to be gained, rather it is lost.

Leaders like Gandhi, President Obama and Angelina Jolie we thought were red personified.

Yellows are big picture leaders. They are creative, innovative, and risk takers. If you’re a yellow, you respond to those that are flexible, and like a red, you put trust in the people and it’s up to them if they keep it.

Steve Jobs, according to the group, was a dominant yellow.

And if you’re a green? You’re a planner, you’re industrious, and you’re detail driven. A green will respond to those that are reliable, and like a blue, those around you earn your trust.

Frank Lowy and head of the World Bank, Dr Jim Yong Kim, we said were greens.

But can you be a blue, red, yellow and green? Apparently the best leaders will be dominant in all four, but most will lean towards one, maybe two.

So then, once we knew what we were, how did we feel?
I am a red, and I am good with that. I have a tendency towards blue, yellow and green, but with two red dominant words amongst my five it was clear.

And yet knowing the various traits of a blue, red, yellow and green, we asked was it possible such different people could actually work together? Can reds work with blues and yellows work with greens when these types of leaders are found to clash most often?

The answer is obvious. We need to. And as communications professionals, it is clear why.

With a yellow, we approach a problem in innovative and creative ways, a blue will ensure the same problem is solved logically and delivers strategic solutions, a red will ensure it resonates with the audience within their environment and a green will see to it that the best laid plans are achievable and adapt as needed.

If we’re lucky, we are fortunate to work with a blue, we’re inspired by a yellow, driven to achieve by a green and believed in by a red.

Truthfully, the two days of critical self-assessment were much more worthwhile than I initially thought. And while I walked away understanding my strengths, I also walked away much more aware of the importance of adapting.

The bottom line? We should never be comfortable with being pigeonholed as just a blue, green, red or yellow, but embrace the best of them that make us the most well-rounded leader we can be.

For more on the HBDI Whole Brain Thinking Model and training enquire with Phuel (http://phuel.com/)

  1. Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO Herrmann International, Building Leaders in the 21st Century: Brains 3.0. 2009.

Written by Rachel Stanton – Account Director, Ogilvy PR Health