Just as we instantly identify qualities for big brands such as Apple, Virgin or Chanel, we do the same for people. Think about Bill Gates, Bill Clinton or Cate Blanchett. Can you quickly think of a few words to describe them?
In the same way, we make judgments every moment about the people around us. Fairly or unfairly, rightly or wrongly, we reinforce our view of others by unconsciously identifying the words or phrases that capture a person’s essence.
Try it yourself. Write down three words to describe the person you most admire at work. Now do the same for a person you find least appealing.
Your own personal brand is the headline for your story and the foundation of your success. It points to who you are and how you do things. Your brand is how you behave, how you look when you behave, what you can and can’t do plus your unique qualities.
Powerful personal brands are built on deeply held inner values with the strengths and talents you build through your career. They can’t be faked. When your brand comes from a place of inner truth it will be authentic, consistent and the real deal.
Trust is also a crucial aspect of any brand. People will pay more for products from brands they perceive as reliable. You achieve that through building meaningful relationships based on honesty and doing what you say you are going to do.
While we craft and polish our personal brands, and manage and massage our image, your reputation ultimately depends on authenticity because humans have a highly developed fakery radar.
If you want to build your personal brand, increase your reputation and career opportunities, here are some areas to discuss with your coach:
1. Examine your values, what drives your thoughts and actions
2. What are your strengths?
3. What’s your story – how do you tell others about yourself?
4. How do people see you now?
5. What is the appropriate image-building behavior for different audiences?
6. What is your ideal personal brand and how will it evolve over time?
7. What are your points of difference?
8. Is this image appropriate to your targets?
9. Does this image reflect an authentic version of you?
10. What platforms can you use?
For this blog, I thought about the greatest leader that I have ever worked with and these are the qualities I would use to brand him – calm and confident, connected, open, a great listener, consistent, reliable, resilient and a sense of humour.
So what are people saying about you?
Test your own brand. Write down five words that describe you. Then ask some colleagues to do the same. Are there any similarities on your lists? Have you made any discoveries about who people think you are? Understanding how others see you can help you to identify your strengths and recognise those traits that might need tempering.
The great news is you can influence how others think and feel about you.
One of my clients, despite being skilled in his industry with an extensive education and identified as high potential talent – found that his career had stalled. He had been given the feedback that he lacked executive presence and was struggling to find his voice in the board room. His HR Director said he had to learn to “step up.”
During communications coaching, he explored how others perceive him and made changes to enhance his relationships, increase his leadership and learned how to become more strategic when delivering his key messages.
At the end of his communications coaching sessions, he had a plan and had mastered the actions needed to carry it through. He had discovered his own authentic leadership style with an enhanced sense of authority. His career is on the move again.
So, build your personal brand from a base of high integrity, add your special skills and unique qualities that set you aside and then follow Oscar Wilde’s advice “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”.
About the author
Helen Tribe is Stephenson Mansell Group’s Executive Communications Coach.
Helen has been part of the Stephenson Mansell Group since 2006, coaching executives in the C-suite as well as emerging leaders. Helen’s coaching programs help clients to increase their impact within small groups, in one-to-one situations as well as presenting to large audiences. Helen also facilitates workshops on Presentation Skills, Personal Branding, Empowering Women and Brain Power Boosting.
Helen Tribe has deep expertise in helping senior executives deal with their stress and emotional responses to the pressure of communicating. She empowers and enables them to present and lead more effectively. Often thought of as “just something everyone does”, communication is a learned art of understanding how people think, feel and behave. Effective leadership is about influencing people and in order to influence you need to capture people’s attention, confidence, respect, imagination and trust. All of these are built through communications which is a critical capability essential for success as a leader.