A brand is that indistinguishable factor that sets something apart from the rest. Marketers try to develop a brand that sticks and engages people to take action – in many cases that means to make a purchase. The truth is that as much as people spend time establishing a brand, it is others that actually brand you. Social media makes it easy to label and brand things by building consensus.
Brand does not merely apply to commodities such as soda and automobiles. It applies to services, people, and leadership. Chances are you are not aware of your leadership brand. Rest assured, others are. They know who is capable and who is not. Sometimes your brand is so strong it is a stereotype — The CEO Suck Up, The Overachiever, The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Frantic Fanatic, The Office Gossip, Miss Self Important, The Chatterbox, The Micro Manager.
Growing your self-awareness is the first tenet of building a solid leadership brand.
Create a five-column matrix and fill in the blanks with responses to the following points. When we have the humility to mindfully accept the truth of our situation on paper, it gives us a tangible and actionable plan to execute and track.
1. Your aspiration: List three things you want to be known for
If you aren’t sure, imagine you were giving your retirement speech. Looking back, what would you comment on as your most fulfilling accomplishments?
2. Your perception: What do you suppose your colleagues would say about you now? Be honest
Ask yourself this: What would be said about you at your funeral by 1) a friend 2) a family member and 3) a work colleague? What would those who don’t care for you say?
3. Your reality: Ask five people you work closely with how they would describe you at work
Send an email to five unbiased people with whom you have worked over the last year. Tell them you are working on your leadership development and want to know how they would describe your 1) strongest traits and 2) areas of opportunity. Assure them you are not proud and see this as an opportunity to build your self-awareness. Accept that your perception may not be others’ reality.
4. Your opportunity: What key area of opportunity do you want to address?
Is there a theme to the feedback you have received from others? When we address a target area for improvement it helps to 1) Identify what triggers it, 2) deploy a calming technique in the moment such as a deep breath and 3) have a go-to strategy such as asking for clarification or more time to get back to them.
5. Your It Factor: What is your signature strength? What is the impact of that strength?
Put context around this. Define it succinctly so that you may speak to it in meetings, in strategy sessions, and on resumes. If your signature strength is good listening and problem solver you might say, “After having listened to all points of view I suggest that we do (X) and evaluate its efficacy by (Y).”