Brand and Perception: Leadership Essentials

The leader and employee in today’s environment must possess a credible and trusted brand, much like a company does.

This is sometimes also referred to as a personal and/or professional reputation. Either way, people see you a certain way based on your behaviours, words and actions. Being aware of this helps you to take control of your brand.

Like culture, it exists whether we influence it or not. Why then, wouldn’t you want to take control of this as much as possible? The benefits of modern technology and Social Media make this easier than in the past. It also provides potential pitfalls and risk. However, your personal brand and the perception you create is more than your Social Media profiles and habits. Your ‘real life’ actions and behaviours shape the perception others have of you. After all, those closest to you are the people who you should be most interested in influencing. Rarely is the depth of relationships online as strong as in person. Sadly, the lines are becoming blurred for many people.

CoachStation: Personal Brand and Leadership

It takes time and effort to develop your reputation built on genuine results, behaviours, skills and qualities that others identify as strengths and positive attributes. This is important for all of us, but is most critical for leaders.

Personal branding, much like social media, is about making a full-time commitment to the journey of defining yourself as a leader and how this will shape the manner in which you will serve others. (1)

Many leaders are already performing well in their roles and have much to offer. Whether people recognise and acknowledge this is another question. Having the knowledge and tools to promote yourself effectively without appearing to be ‘big-noting’ is a challenge for some. I look at this differently. It is not about being a self-promoter. It is more about being comfortable enough in who you are and your achievements so that you can comfortably talk about it. This comfort stems from strength in self-esteem and self-acceptance, amongst other attributes.

Overlooked for promotion; receiving little recognition; difficulty in explaining beliefs, passions or roles, along with other skills are often difficult challenges, but can be overcome. Creating a strong brand can only be achieved through consistent practice and application. This takes effort and accountability. In a blog I wrote previously titled Setting Standards and Expectations, I mentioned the importance of ownership and taking accountability.

Perceptions about self and what we think others believe about us influences much of who we are and what we do.

Each person has their own beliefs and needs and are at various stages of acceptance of their situation, financial requirements and employability. Being clear about what you want from life, including as an employee, helps you to make appropriate decisions. Decisions based on want, values and need and not simply situation and opportunity. Even when current roles appear stable, understanding of yourself and focusing energies on the next steps or options is a worthwhile exercise.

A brand in itself is not the end game. It is a mistake to think that a hollow set of tricks and/or being a good marketer without having the substance to support the brand will work.

This is the same when promoting products, services or people. People see through this kind of facade very quickly, even when we think they haven’t.

What is presented to the world via your online presence is becoming more and more critical to how other people view who you are and what you stand for. It is a wonder to me how many people still struggle with this concept. As important as this is, meaning and substance matters more than merely presenting yourself professionally online. It is how you communicate, manage perceptions, behave, respond, learn about and apply emotional intelligence. A solid social media presence is one aspect, but your brand is more than that.

It also relates to your ability to develop relationships, foster an ability to connect with others and various similar core skills that help you to influence people.

Taking control of and developing your reputation is essential for the advancement of your career and development as a leader. Unfortunately, personal branding has become a “commoditized” term that has lost its intention as people have irresponsibly used social media as a platform to build their personal brand and increase their relevancy. They believe social media can immediately increase their market value for their personal brand rather than recognizing that the process of developing their personal brand is a much bigger responsibility; a never-ending journey that extends well beyond social media.

Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.

This doesn’t mean self-promotion – that you should be creating awareness for your brand by showcasing your achievements and success stories. Managing your personal brand requires you to be a great role model, mentor, and/or a voice that others can depend upon. (1)

Personal branding is a topic that has been of interest to me for some years. The related concepts and practical elements are consistently discussed topics when coaching and mentoring my clients. Our focus is about what is happening now, how you present yourself in your current role. This is not only relevant and important when you are looking for a new role. Essentially, having a strong brand always matters. I work with people in various industries at all levels of management, yet the branding elements remain surprisingly consistent.

The issues that exist and skills required in modern workplaces are as applicable for entry-level employees as they are for supervisors and executive level leaders.

How you present yourself should reflect what you care most about. This should include demonstrating consistency in values, beliefs and actions. The most effective leaders are those who care about people and are passionate about specific aspects of their role.

If you want to become a person of influence in your industry, realize it usually takes years of experience to earn a spot at the top. “How do you figure out something is your passion? It’s that thing you go to sleep about at night and it’s on your mind. You wake up and it’s still on your mind. It’s like a burning desire inside of you, you just can’t escape it, and you would do it for free simply because you love it.” (2)

At CoachStation we focus on the core elements that can assist any individual to develop a reputation and brand. One that is based on a solid foundation, leading to improved credibility and future success. These topics may be of use to you as you continue to build your reputation:

  1. Investigate why personal branding is important in your business and personal life.
  2. Take control of your brand and reputation – like culture, it exists, so you may as well influence it as much as possible.
  3. Learn the key elements of branding and how to build on them with meaning and authenticity.
  4. Build self-esteem, confidence and authenticity – don’t feel you need to act the part or play a role either in your personal or professional life.
  5. Understand the relevance of Social Media in developing a brand and how to use these tools to greatest effect.
  6. Develop a strong brand that is consistent with what you care about the most and your passions.
  7. Learn how to use the most relevant tools and technology to develop your brand.
  8. Seek understanding why a personal and professional brand is a non-negotiable for leaders and employees in today’s environment.
View your personal brand as a trademark; an asset that you must protect while continuously moulding and shaping it. 

Your personal brand is an asset that must be managed with the intention of helping others benefit from having a relationship with you and/or by being associated with your work and the industry you serve. (1)

The need to develop your brand and reputation is more relevant today than ever. If you don’t take control of your brand it will continue to evolve but not in a way that will add value to yourself and those you care about.

Have you defined your own brand? If so, do you live and  breathe it consistently every day?

Think about what your brand looks like from the perspective of others.

Take action to be accountable in shaping your brand to greatest effect.

As always, the opportunity is yours.

 

 

Resources:

(1)  Personal Branding is a Leadership Requirement, Not a Self-Promotion Campaign: Forbes

(2) How To Create a Standout Personal Brand: Entrepreneur.com

 

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