1. Review the package and determine which leader to
impersonate. We recommend getting the advice of your manager,
direct reports, and peer work-withs for help with choosing. To
get the richest learning experience, you should choose someone
unlike yourself, who will stretch your behaviors, but not
someone whom you will find too difficult to impersonate. As you
gain more comfort with your acting ability, you will be able to
impersonate more unlikely personalities.
2. The profiles contain brief biographies, activities, and behaviors to adopt. The “Activities Alone” are meant to help you get into character so start with those before you move on to the “Activities with Others.” Some of the activities are quite intensive so you need to be sure that you have the buy-in of your manager to perform these. It is important to conduct all of the activities in order to get the full benefit of the character, but you will need to use your judgment on the extent to which you can carry these out. For instance, some require streamlining your workload or putting a system in place.
3. It should take you somewhere between 1-3 weeks to master the character. We recommend that you plan on two weeks, and continue if you need more time to fully internalize the persona. While you are impersonating the character, inform all your colleagues of what you are doing and solicit their help in mastering the appropriate behaviors. We encourage you to ask, “Is this what so-and-so would do or say?”
4. The most important part of this exercise is the debriefing and reflection. Do not short change these. You should, at a minimum, schedule separate meetings to debrief with your manager and with your direct reports. If possible, schedule debriefing sessions with all your work-withs; if not, you can get their feedback during your normal course of business.
On your own
- How did it feel to be that leader?
- What did you like about that person? And dislike?
- Which uncomfortable behaviors grew to become more natural?
- What behaviors would you like to keep for yourself?
- How can you adapt this person’s perspectives and behaviors to work for you?
- How did I change while I was being this person?
- What did you like and dislike?
- What behaviors do you think I should keep and which should I discard?
This exercise is intense and requires a good deal of energy. Although there is technically no limit to how often you can adopt a different persona, we recommend that you only do this once or twice a year.