Your Personal Brand of Leadership
I’m traveling a lot these days, meeting with SHAMBAUGH’s clients across the country and around the globe. What keeps coming up in our conversations is how our business environment is rapidly changing and organizations are reinventing themselves in real time to ensure that their brand is aligned with both the changes and the opportunities. Actually, many of our discussions are also about how savvy business people are re-evaluating their own personal brand to ensure that it represents key differentiators that are value-added to their colleagues, teams, organizations, and customers. Strange that with all these client conversations and many internal meetings about SHAMBAUGH’s brand in the marketplace, I was surprised recently to discover that I too had a "brand" and it wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be!
I was flying cross the Atlantic, to speak at a Global Leadership Conference, when the gentlemen sitting next me said, "Aren’t you the Sticky Floor Lady?" I have to admit that at first, I was pleasantly surprised that someone actually recognized me, as this doesn’t happen to me very often. Then, I began to wonder… Sticky Floor Lady…Is this how everyone sees me?
I wrote "It’s Not A Glass Ceiling, It’s A Sticky Floor" several years ago. And while I’ve talked about the Sticky Floors ever since, I really never intended to have them become my brand in the marketplace! How about …"thought leader", or author of two practical books on leadership, or pioneer in developing programs to advance women? Any one of them would work for me. But, those weren’t what came to the gentleman’s mind when he recognized me. Sticky Floor Lady is what he said.
I learned from this experience that if you don’t intentionally create your brand, someone else will do it for you. In today’s business environment, organizations are looking for people who stand out from the pack and have a unique value proposition that supports their growth and success. Call this your brand or your core differentiation, and, in some cases, your 30 second commercial!
If you don’t already have a brand or if you are considering changing it, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Define and Own Your Values
Values represent what is most meaningful to us. They drive our intrinsic motivations, help shape our priorities and provide us with focus. One of my top values is service which, for me, has evolved into helping people to realize their fullest potential. This value has also transformed into a core mission for SHAMBAUGH which is providing the best coaching and right programs to further the development and advancement of business leaders. In my book, "It’s Not A Glass Ceiling, It’s A Sticky Floor, I reinforce the Idea that knowing and living your values not only helps to shape your brand but also provides you with a keen sense of self-empowerment. Our values help shape our authentic self which is essential when you are creating and living your brand.
- Identify Your Signature Strengths
It’s important to incorporate your unique strengths in your personal brand. These strengths are things that you are really good at and that you love doing. Ideally, they positively differentiate you. It’s important to identify ways to leverage these strengths to capitalize on potential opportunities in your organization. This may call for getting out of your comfort zone and working with different people on new projects. You might even consider extending these strengths outside of your company by working on non-profit boards or by leading volunteer projects in your community. We all have signature strengths. The key is taking the time to identify them and then intentionally building them into your brand campaign.
- Learn More About Your Current Leadership Brand!
Get feedback from others. It’s helpful to learn how others perceive you to see if their perception is in alignment with what you ideally want your leadership brand to be. Reach out to several people that you respect and you know will give you honest feedback. Consider this feedback as a gift to broaden your personal brand awareness so that you can change how you are showing up if others don’t view you as what you want your brand to be.
- Be Consistent with Your Brand
Your brand shows up in many different kinds of work situations. such as: in meetings, on the phone, in emails, during your business presentations, in one-on-one conversation, and even when you are riding In the elevator with someone! The key is to be intentional about your brand. The more consistent and authentic you are when you show up, the better able people will be to recognize and describe your signature strengths and your unique value.
- Find Opportunities to Leverage Your Brand
You can’t operate in a vacuum and then expect that people will know who you are and recognize your unique qualities. Look for opportunities where you can socialize your brand. Find people who can help you become recognized as your brand. Ask for their assistance in getting to know others in your organization and in having others know more about you as your brand.
Remember, you can create the conversation people have about you! What will those conversations be and when will you begin to create that brand for yourself?
Learn more about SHAMBAUGH’s upcoming leadership programs, coaching and our signature Women in Leadership and Learning Program Fall 2010 program or feel free to email me at email@example.com and share with me your thoughts or questions on leadership and branding!