Paul Kenny, GBP: It’s not your personality style holding you back in your professional or personal life, it’s your inability to recognise where your natural preferences aren’t serving you and to flex or adapt when required.

A guest blog from Paul Kenny, BoS hero. Paul offers some insight into the age old question of introverts and sale and offers some wider thoughts about how individuals can adopt different styles in different situations.

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I first spoke at Business of Software in 2008, when I delivered a rather nervous, presentation ‘Sales 101’. [See all of Paul’s talks here from one place.]

I came to the conference because I had been doing some work with the then fledgling sales department at Red Gate, and Neil Davidson invited me to come and do a talk that encouraged developers and engineers to get in touch with their inner sales person. It was the end of my financial year and I thought why not enjoy a few days in Boston in the autumn. I planned to do my presentation, shake a few hands and spend my time exploring the city. But a funny thing happened. The first speaker was so awesome that I decided to stay for the next, then the next, then the next and so on throughout the conference. What’s more, I was blown away by the friendliness and the openness of the delegates. When someone came to say “hi” it was only minutes before they were sharing detailed problems and challenges that they were facing and the questioning over beers at the end of each day was intense. One guy even pulled out the notes he made from my presentation and asked me to expand on the points that he had highlighted. That had never happened to me before.

Every year since then has been a similar experience and I have made great friends, who I look forward to seeing each year. But after five years and five different sales topics I felt that I had said enough, and wasn’t sure what I could usefully add to this year’s agenda, so my plan was to come to the conference as a delegate, put my feet up and enjoy the show.

However, there is one question that I have been asked many times at BoS, both in the presentations and privately out of session. Dan Pink also addressed this question last year (at least briefly) and one that I feel is worth exploring in more depth. The question is this-

“Given that I’m an introvert, do you think I will ever be able to sell?”

This question saddens me a little because there is an underlying assumption that introversion and extraversion are fixed states and that there is nothing we can do about the hand that we have been dealt. Further, the question assumes that Introversion and extraversion are the primary drivers of personality, whereas patently we are much more complex than that.

Over the years, I have road tested many psychometric tests and used them to help people to understand how their personal preferences and style impacts the way they sell and the way they lead. It is important to understand that our preferences are just that, preferences. We can and do adapt our style everyday just to get through the ups and downs of being in business.

Many people have asked me what type of person is most likely to be successful in business, and my answer is always the same, personality type is not by itself a reliable indicator of ability or likelihood of success. However a high level of self- awareness and the ability to be flexible almost always is. It’s not your personality style that holds you back in your professional or personal life, it’s your inability to recognise where your natural preferences aren’t serving you and to flex or adapt when required.

In the last couple of years I have been trialing a new personality profile called the “Lumina Spark” which combines the best of all the other tools that I have used and has proven really useful, particularly in my coaching work with leaders and sales people alike.

I love the product; I love what we can do with it when we use it for coaching, for team-building and for discussing key relationships. I have referred to my own profile many times when I have needed a reality check or some perspective on what’s happening in an important meeting or to help me change tack when I get stuck or struggle for motivation.

So I had an idea. Why not combine my favourite conference and my favourite psychometric tool and see if we could have some fun and learn something useful about entrepreneurs in general and BoS folk in particular.

I approached the guys at Lumina Learning and suggested that they might want to let me offer a full psychometric report for everyone attending BoS for free. To be honest I was expecting them to say no, the RRP for each report is £150/$230 and to offer up to 400 for free was a big ask. [But despite Paul’s protestations to the contrary, he can be highly persuasive when he wants to be].

However they were very understanding and excited to be part of the BoS experience, they are a start-up themselves they understand the ethos of the conference and they have shown an extreme generosity of spirit.

So here it is – every delegate coming to BoS 2013 will get the opportunity to have an awesome personalised Lumina Spark Portrait. The report runs to 30 pages and is a highly detailed insight into how you respond to the world about you. (I’ve tested it out on a couple of BoS regulars and the response has been exceptional).

I will run a workshop on Monday afternoon in which I will show you how to use the portrait to help you develop a deeper understanding of how you operate, how others see you and how you will can develop into an even more effective leader.

Of course it’s up to you if you want to take part, but if you do, I can promise an insightful hour that may just change they way you think about yourself, your team and the world around you.

We will post again in the next few days and let you know how to complete the questionnaire and what to expect in the workshop. See you in Boston.

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Thank you Paul Kenny.

Paul mentioned that he had tried the profile on a few BoS regulars, myself and Peldi included. Here is a 1 minute conversation with Paul and Peldi about how Peldi was using what he discovered in the very next meeting he had.

Even more exciting for Business of Software Conference attendees…

Paul has been talked into  volunteered to lead the workshops sessions on Monday afternoon, a time when we want to take a break from the talks and spend some time learning things about ourselves and getting to know each other. Last year, we made spaghetti towers and prototyped mobile apps amongst other things.

This year, we are going to ask everyone who attends to complete a personality profile ahead of the event (it will take a maximum of 20 minutes prior to coming to BoS) and we will then use this time to give people some insight into their own personal style and personality preferences and help people think about how they can adapt these to different situations. You may well have done a personality, aptitude or leadership style profile or two in the past but we are pretty sure you will find this is something that offers you some useful insights into the way you approach work and play. We also think that with Paul on board, it will be a lot of fun.

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