Personal branding and leadership… two very hot topics that are covered in very much detail in our dedicated magazines and that we discussed in countless occasions in these columns.
Also, two topics that many of you said they find very interesting while not grasping yet their true purpose and extend.
This is the reason why I decided to bring the topic back to these columns.
To start, let me begin with two key questions:
What is Personal Branding and why is it a leadership imperative?
Think about your Personal Brand as the collection of values you stand for and the offerings you consistently deliver.
To brand yourself properly, you need to be clear on what differentiates you from the ‘crowd’ and your unique value proposition from others.
There is only one you, after all!
What are the special assets, skills and experience you bring to the table?
How do you want to be known?
Your Personal Brand is like your trademark, which is why it must be carefully managed and protected.
It is not a list of accomplishments or an exercise in self-promotion.
Do not confuse Personal Branding and Curriculum Vitae (Résumé).
Branding yourself is a life changing decision.
Why is it a leadership imperative?
Because when you live your personal brand, you are being true to yourself; and that comes through when you’re interacting with others — colleagues, managers and other stakeholders.
It contributes to authentic leadership because you’re acting in a way that is consistent with your vision of who you are, what you’re good at and what matters most to you — both professionally and personally.
So how do you build your brand?
To truly live your brand, you must first define it.
What are you passionate about? In what do you consider yourself an expert? For what do you want to be known? How will you tell your story?
Remember: only you can tell it. And that what makes it so exciting!
Taking the time to define your Personal Brand Statement is invaluable.
It’s a tremendous learning experience, a deep introspection, searching the real ‘you’.
What’s more, it also enhances your ability to achieve your career goals.
Getting started is the hard part, however.
It requires self-analysis, something at which many of us — including me! — do not excel.
After the first step, the rest is relatively easy and the rewards cannot be overstated.
I challenge each of you to live your own brand. You may be surprised where it takes you!
For your personal branding to help you be (become) a leader, you need also to follow a few mandatory steps:
When it comes to your career, you need to own it.
It means being personally accountable for your own professional growth, and playing an important part in managing it.
It means doing a great job in your current role and finding ways to develop new skills and capabilities for your next one.
It also means to never be content with what you have, and always take the challenge to move to new and different roles — especially high-profile ones —; roles that test your current expertise.
High-risk often equals high-reward (and we're not talking only about money here).
Always think about your points of difference: who you are and how you want to be known.
When meeting new people, don’t lose sight of the little things.
Introduce yourself, have business cards on hand when appropriate, and when you can, do some advance research on the colleagues you’ll be meeting.
Having something in common always helps with relationship-building.
On the other hand, show subtlety your differences – don’t throw them to the face of your interlocutor!:
No one is really interested to do business with a clone of themselves. But if what makes you unique enrich them, they will be willing to develop a fruitful relationship.
As well, apply the Personal Brand discussion externally so that you are visible outside of your company.
Look for opportunities to network, serve on committees or associations, and attend events that, while external to your company, are relevant to the work you’re doing right now as well as your ‘next move’.
You will be amazed at how this external perspective helps sharpen your skills internally!
Ask yourself, what are you really passionate about?
Once you are able to answer (you will be surprised that it might not that be easy), prepare, persevere, embrace risks and don’t be afraid of a challenge, as scary as it may appear.
Your passion might be collecting stamps or climbing the highest mountain.
Whatever it is, you will eventually hit a wall and moving to the next step might involve risks that you were not ready to address.
Go for it!
It is not (always) half as bad as it may seem first.
Or maybe it’ll be worst.
In any case, move on: this is one of the true leadership secrets.
Don't they say "Life is like a bicycle; it falls down when it's not moving"?
We’ve all heard that old saying about change being the only constant.
Regardless your current job status and position – CEO or clerk -, that will be the case.
Will the changes be challenging?
Probably, but remaining flexible and optimistic will make for an easier transition wherever you go in your career.
There are the only way to learn and grow.
Be a team player.
I’m a firm believer in collaboration.
Today’s problems are too complex to think that any one individual has the answer.
It’s about consulting widely, but then acting decisively; making sure that multiple opinions are heard, but at the end of the day, not letting decisions linger.
Teaming up with colleagues to work through a challenging situation energizes me, and I am lucky to say that in most of my career I had great teams.
Be your own biggest fan.
You must be your own greatest champion.
Your manager is, of course, fully aware of what you do - or should be -, but no one knows your skills, experiences and contributions better than yourself.
Always look for opportunities to surface the great work and compliments you’ve received – without becoming obnoxious.
You should also take the time to be someone else’s biggest fan!
Recognize good work wherever you see it. Take the time to thank someone for their efforts. Small gestures go a long way.
Let’s face it; we spend more time at work than we do anywhere else, so we need to make the best of it.
Even if you are not crazy about your day-in day-out job, there are always moments during the day (and I don’t mean the time you leave to go home!) more pleasurable thanks to a colleague, a customer, a task you achieved…
Whatever they are, cherish those moments and find your happiness with them.
(Never expect those ‘magical moment’ from your boss; if they recognize your value it is all good and well but it is not necessary - find happiness in yourself)
We all face challenges — at work and in life — but what’s most important is how we respond to those challenges.
Take them in stride, think about what they can teach you, and be positive...
Of course, being positive doesn’t come easily:
It is much easier and immediately rewarding to be unhappy and complaining all the time.
But it leads nowhere.
While being constructive is much harder to achieve – like anything good and positive -, it lasts longer and its rewards are higher both professionally and personally.
What’s more, you may be surprised to discover that your upbeat outlook is contagious!