In a world of social media, selfies, avatars and fake influencers the currency of personal branding has taken on a whole new meaning, and for many of us a certain cringe factor, not to mention a jarring against our personal values. But at its core personal branding, particularly for leaders is even more important today than it was back in its origins of the late 90s.
In the cyber physical age characterised by a world of seemingly endless disruption in the workplace being able to stand for something real, trustworthy and credible that helps people connect with you, remember you and believe you will deliver what you say you will, is critical. If AI machines can do the procedural work, leaders will add value through their distinctive human capabilities expressed uniquely through their personal leadership brand.
What is a personal leadership brand?
By way of a reminder, your personal leadership brand is your identity, your distinctiveness as a leader, your personal promise of value and transparency of action such that colleagues and clients know what you stand for and how you go about it. It works best when it is based on authenticity, not when you are trying to be someone you are not or someone you wish you were.
Most of us already have a personal brand, we just need to spend a bit of time pulling it all together into something that is easily digestible, impactful and of value to others. Below are 2 simple steps you can take to create your personal leadership brand and make it memorable.
Step 1: Clarify your brand
The first step isn’t hard but it takes a little time reflecting and speaking to others to get both an inside out and an outside in perspective. First think about what your unique strengths, values, motivations, and passions are. Think about the qualities that differentiate you from those you work with. It might be helpful to ask peers and direct reports to give you feedback. The second step, and one that is often missed, is think about what do others need from you. It is the intersection between these two that becomes your personal leadership brand. You can have all these great strengths and attributes, but if they are not needed by anyone then they’re only really interesting to you!
Step 2: Make your brand memorable
OK so you’ve looked inside yourself, worked out what’s of value to others and joined the dots between the two. You now need to translate your personal brand into everything you do.
Make it consistent. From the way you talk on the phone to the way you behave in meetings or write emails. Pay attention to your style: it’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
Make it constant. Don’t just do a one-off road show or think about it when you’re less busy or stressed. Your brand is a daily commitment.
Make it visible. For marketers, consumers need to see your product to be aware of it, the same goes for your personal brand and this becomes even more difficult in a virtual world. Go through your calendar tomorrow and identify all the opportunities you have to express your brand (in meetings, emails, phone conversations, team conversations, presentations etc). Every activity, conversation and interaction is an opportunity to make your brand visible. Branded stories can also be a great way to bring it to life.
The final test
To test whether your brand has impact think about: does it represent who you really are; is it something that creates value for your organisation and stakeholders; and can you actually live this brand translating it into your day-to-day behaviours. While your brand is a constant in so much as it is authentically you, it also needs to evolve and be relevant in a disruptive world so make sure you keep getting feedback from others on its impact and whether it is still something that people need and want at the same time as being authentic to you.
This article was written by Cath Ranken, Principal Consultant, Sydney