When I lead breakout sessions or workshops on the importance of cultivating and strengthening your personal brand, I begin with what I believe to be one of the most profound business quotes of all time.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com
I follow immediately by reinforcing to the crowd, “Similarly, your personal brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s how your peers, employers, colleagues, family and friends describe you.”
Consider that for a moment. If your colleagues assembled in a room and were asked to describe you, what adjectives would come to mind? Would they refer to you as innovative, visionary and strategic? Or, would they favor execution-oriented phrases like detailed-driven, organized and diligent? Are you content with the words that would come to mind, or has this exercise revealed that you have work to do on your personal brand?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment, an online assessment that unlocks your top five dominant strengths. Gallup contends that individuals who know their strengths—and intentionally play to them daily—enjoy higher levels of workplace engagement, success and fulfillment. My StrengthsFinder results reveal my top five strengths to be:
- WOO (Winning Others Over)
I can’t say that my results are all that surprising, especially considering I was dubbed a Chatty-Cathy from the moment I uttered my first word! But what was interesting to me is that my No. two strength is Futuristic, or the ability to peer over the horizon to see what the future can hold. I can be so focused on execution—thanks to strengths like Achiever and Discipline—that I can forget to take moments to pause and set vision even though I am naturally really good at it. I overuse my execution-oriented strengths and, as a result, I bet most people would use words like “disciplined,” “responsible” and “fast” to describe me instead of “visionary,” “strategic” and “influential.”
When I assess the direction I wish to take my personal brand, I want to be viewed just as futuristic as I am execution-minded. But this means I have work to do! Specifically, I have to be mindful of the actions I take daily that either reinforce my brand as it is today or help evolve it. And every day that I churn, churn, churn is another day I am viewed as a workhorse in the eyes of my peers.
Now think about yourself again.
As a business line unit leader, you are likely in a position where all eyes are on you to bring change to the organization. There is an expectation that you will move the business forward, be transformative and innovate on a dime. But is this your reality? Is that your personal brand?
All too often in business we get saddled down by inefficient processes or incomplete, broken systems that prevent us from reaching our desired state. For some, the norm is death by spreadsheets, with one employee holding the keys to keeping, maintaining and updating critical company information. For others, the state-of-the-state means having a phone system and CRM that don’t integrate with one another, thereby limiting the power of the customer experience. And for many it can mean being lulled into the safety of the “good enough” mentality, telling ourselves there isn’t a better way.
You may also like: When Businesses Can’t Get Out of Their Own Way
But as business leaders we always know there is a better way and it’s up to us to challenge broken processes and drive efficiency back into the business. You have the ability to make your personal brand about just that—about being willing to acknowledge existing business obstacles and come up with solutions to bridge to a better future state. A business leader who scoffs at the notion of “Well, it’s the way we’ve always done it.”
Your personal brand is dynamic and ever-evolving, but what remains constant is the fact that it provides a windowpane into your character, beliefs and core values. So… are you happy with where your personal brand stands today?
To help you continue to refine your personal brand, you may find these blogs helpful:
- Make One Change—Uncover a Masterpiece
- When ‘Good Enough’ is Not Good Enough
- The Importance of Business Analysis in Any Software-related Project