Tag Archives: Ramiro Roman @RamiroRoman

Six Ways Improv Can Improve Your Leadership Skills


Looking to take your leadership style to the next level?  Try improv!  Seriously.

Last year, as part of my performance evaluation, I was told in kinder terms that for my career development I should boost my executive leadership presence.  My review was solid, but if I wanted to take it to the next level, this was something to address.  No one doubted my capability or capacity, but my brand had lost some of its sizzle as I was bogged down by my daily grind as the Chief Marketing Officer of one of GE Healthcare’s biggest and most profitable businesses.

I did some soul searching and acknowledged that I needed to freshen up my leadership style.  As I considered alternatives, I began to evaluate development tools.  I’ve benefited from best in class leadership courses in universities and in corporate programs at GE and J&J, but I was looking for something different that could significantly impact my behavior.  Then I recalled something I’ve always wanted to do, but never took the time to – always with the excuse of “that’s not for me” – improv.

ComedySportz, Milwaukee, WI 2014
2014 ComedySportz, Milwaukee, WI

Improv, as defined by Wikipedia, “is a form of theater where most or all of what is performed is created at the moment it is performed. In its purest form, the dialogue, the action, the story and the characters are created collaboratively by the players as the improvisation unfolds in present time, without use of an already prepared, written script.” 

I’ve always prided myself in being prepared, on strategy and with a clear objective in mind, not… well, being improvisational.

The Benefits of Improv : PILLAR

Challenged by the concept, I looked up the local club and decided to give it a try.  Ten months later, I am a convert.  Improv has boosted my leadership skills in unforeseen ways which corporate or university programs previously have not:

  1. Poise – Although I’ve always been a good speaker, facing a completely foreign audience on any topic without the benefit of any preparation is sure to challenge the best of us.  Poise, conviction and resolve are crucial to your delivery, on and off stage.
  2. Innovation – The only rule in improv is that there are no rules.  Through a series of “yes, and” you and your colleagues build a spontaneous reality that is both creative and original.
  3. Listening – By far, the biggest surprise I’ve had is the realization that improv has remarkably improved my listening skills.  I find myself much more attuned to what people say, particularly in interviews, presentations and the often dreaded marathon teleconferences.
  4. Laughter – I’ve always wanted to be that leader who uses the right humor with impeccable timing to diffuse tense situations.  While I’m not there yet, I can tell you that I am laughing a lot more in all aspects of my life and that my laughter is contagious with my team and workplace.
  5. Adaptability – The market, competition and unforeseen forces challenge us to be adaptable leaders.  Improv fortifies these muscles, as on stage you can be told to become someone with specific personality traits and you must make the story work – same as in business life.
  6. Risk-taking – Improv is 100% risk, in real time.  What’s more, the more you do it, the more you crave it.  The ability to take risks, rapidly, plays well in our competitive business environment.

Results

This year, my performance review significantly improved in this developmental area, largely as a result of my newfound improvisational skills.  If you find yourself stuck in the same development conundrum, try improv!  You’ll be amazed if you stick with it.

Keep growing!

@RamiroRoman

This article was featured on PM360 Online

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Best Personality Type for Sales


Hire an ‘Ambivert’ or Learn to Become One

Are you in sales?  Yes, you are. Think about it, your title may not say so, but essentially you make a living selling. You may label it To sell is humaninfluencing, persuasion, cajoling, convincing, trading or exchanging—but if you use the general definition of selling: “to hand over something in exchange for money or to persuade someone of the merits of” then hopefully you’ll agree with Dan Pink, author of To Sell is Human (Riverhead Books, 2013) that we’re all in sales.

A seller’s market

In general, sales people have had a traditionally negative stereotype. The typical car salesman comes top of mind. People have associated sales roles with adjectives like pushy, sleazy, and manipulative—you get the point.

Historically, sales people could afford to take on an aggressive stance because it was a seller’s market, where the salesperson had exclusive information. In this context, the customer needed to interact with this gatekeeper. In this traditional model, extroverts— outgoing, gregarious and talkative—were hired and promoted in the sales ranks.

A buyer’s market

Pink details in his book how the sales playing field has been changed and the customer now has the advantage. Much of development has come with the advances of technology, access to information, increased global competition and consumerism.  Today, if a customer knows what they want, they can access most, if not all of the information without involving a sales person.

As the selling dynamics have shifted from seller to buyer, Pink identifies 3 key qualities a sales person must posses in the today’s environment:

1.  Attunement: fully understanding your target’s perspective as the prelude to help them

2.  Buoyancy—resilience through multiple cycles of rejections

3.  Clarity—expertise to make sense of complex situations and providing insights for problem finding

These qualities are not found in the traditionally extroverted salesperson.

The Rise of the Ambivert

A study conducted by Adam Grant, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Management developed and deployed a personality scale from 1-7.  The scores from 1-2 were considered introverts and scores from  6-7 were considered extroverts. In the middle, scores from 3 to 5 were considered ambiverts—a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.

Additionally, the study mapped personality scores to sales productivity. Quantitatively, introverts produced $120/hour, extroverts $125/hour and ambiverts $155/hour.  Surprisingly, the ambivert group that scored the highest productivity of $208/hour scored a 4 in the personality scale, right in the middle of the ambivert range.

Unlike the extremes in the scales, ambiverts know when to talk and when to listen;  when to support and when to push. They are able to manage more selling situations, customers from broader spectrums of personality and leverage both skill sets of the personality spectrum for the benefit of the sale. In short, Pink and the research conclude that ambiverts are the best personality type to sell in today’s environment.

Conclusion

The book and the accompanying study demystify the stereotype that extroverts make the best sales people. To find out where you fall on the scale, take the brief indicator at http://www.danpink.com/assessment/. The good news is that we can all work on balancing our skills and becoming better ambiverts. If you’re looking for a pragmatic how-to book to balance your personality skills, I would recommend this book, it’s a how-to manual packed with exercises in every chapter.

Published in PM360

Can a Career Setback Actually Empower You?


Have you experienced a career downturn? If you haven’t yet, I hate to break it to you…it’s just a matter of time. Careers, like roller coasters, have ups and downs. However, unlike roller coasters, careers are not automatically propelled nor do they have a fixed track to follow. It’s up to you to navigate your path.

The Best Thing that Could Ever Happen To You—How a Career Reversal Can Reinvigorate Your Life (Big Shoes Publishing, 2013), by Sander A. Flaum, former CEO of Euro RSCG Life, is an insightful, wise and pragmatic book that can help you bounce back from a downturn by teaching you how to identify your fears, master your internal inhibitors, unleash your unique potential and ultimately propel you forward after a career setback.

I spent time with Sander discussing some of the intriguing aspects of his book. What follows is a condensed version of that conversation:

Why did you write this book?

A major pharmaceutical company went through a divestiture and employees found themselves disenfranchised. I was asked to come in and speak to them about their transition. I researched and put together the content of what is now the book. After one of the presentations, a senior sales leader asked me to come into his office where he became emotional stating, “You changed my life out there. You have to write a book about what you just said.” I wanted to help people out there who feel hopeless after a downturn.

How did you arrive at the title?

From personal experience. I had a devastating experience that led me to a separate path and eventually a very successful career. Looking back at it, it was literally the best thing that ever happened to me.

You write that “men tend to equate their self-worth with their jobs to a higher degree than many women do.” What specific advice would you give men?

Sociologists and anthropologists have concluded that men, in general, find their self-worth based on how far they have progressed in their career and what successes they have achieved. At the same time, they fail to develop rich networks. I’d advise three things:

1. Start networking immediately—call recruiters who have called you in the past, reach out to past employers and connect with specialty interest groups.

2. Talk to at least one key person everyday—reach out to people who are influential and can help you get a job.

3. Deliver your personal brand as a key message—it’s not about you, it’s about what value you bring to your next position.

What suggestion do you have for someone who’s been downsized or terminated?

Ask HR for a termination letter explaining the rationale for the departure. Write the letter yourself (example in the book) and ask them to edit as needed. There has to be complete consistency in what you are saying as the reason why you’re no longer with the company and what they will hear from your past employer.

What advice do you have about working with recruiters?

Find retained recruiters. Clearly communicate your brand in 20 seconds. Remember, it’s all about the value or ROI you can bring for the recruiter’s clients—it’s not about you. And when you talk to recruiters, don’t bad mouth your past company: A recruiter will simply not place you.

If you’re experiencing a downturn or foresee one in the near future, I recommend Sander’s new book. It’s a detailed “how to” that he’s developed over years of successful executive and academic experience. It can empower you to create the next fulfilling chapter of your career and life.

This book review was published in January’s PM360 issue.