Ask many leaders to think about their personal brand and they’ll struggle with the task. Some will say they’ve never given the idea much thought or that it is for others to judge. But the reality is we all have a brand, whether we think about it or not. What our bosses, colleagues, customers and suppliers say about us is a strong indicator of our brand and it’s probably one of our most important assets.
Taking time to reflect on your leadership brand is a powerful process, but even more important is your ability to proactively manage it. You may work for an organisation that is fully prepared to invest in your development and growth and you may have a boss who takes a similar interest but at the end of the day you are your own brand manager.
True branding needs to be rooted in authenticity and genuine intent
When exploring the concept of a leadership or personal brand we are not talking about “veneer.” We’re all too familiar with corporate brands that spend huge sums of money on advertising and branding that promote great service and products only to experience the reality of something that is far removed from their glitzy promises. Such approaches pay lip service to the notion of what true branding should be, and only generate customer cynicism and churn. True branding needs to be rooted in authenticity and genuine intent. It is in effect a promise, and the stronger the brand the greater the predictability and reliability of it.
It is not about manipulation for self-gain or interest
When talking about a personal brand we’re not talking about something that can be manipulated for self-gain or interest. Although we all again know of leaders in organisations where we can ask that most interesting of questions to close colleagues “how did he/she get where they did?” Such individuals have often chosen to master the dark arts of organisation politics and upwards manipulation. Interestingly, whilst they may have succeeded in influencing upwards with their brand, to those around them, it is often characterised by comments such as: “I just don’t see it or get it!” “Is it me? Am I missing something?” “How on earth did that happen?” So outside of the small leadership cadre they choose to manipulate they’ll often have a very clear and strong brand, that in my experience, is characterised by words and comments such as fake, game-player, political, superficial, dangerous, bull-shit merchant, be careful with them, talks a good game, is “just in” with x and y, always looks after number one first!
Honesty and a genuine and sincere intent is important
Whilst there are individuals who for whatever reason manipulate their brands we still see that it results in a contradictory brand that for many projects a lack of trust and integrity. Consequently, any process of leadership branding and reflection needs to be rooted in honesty and a genuine and sincere intent to be true to oneself and others. The fact is that we all have the capability of identifying a “fake”; someone who is trying to be something that they are not. In branding terms, this is toxic.
To find out more about how PPI Executive Development helps leaders think about and build their leadership brands contact Gerry Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org