When you think of branding, you might think of marketing strategies used at big companies like Disney, Apple, or Zappos. But we all have a brand, whether we realize it or not.
Your personal brand is how you appear to the world. It's how others see you. It's your reputation. Your strengths, values, behaviors, and habits all form your personal brand.
Your leadership brand conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader. What value to you bring as a leader? What do you stand for? How do others see you?
Most professionals and leaders are not even aware of what their leadership brand is.
Your leadership brand is very important. It’s the basis of many decisions made in the workplace.
When your boss and other leaders are making decisions about promotions or other factors, your leadership brand is impacting these decisions, whether you realize it or not. Your personal strengths and talents plus your behaviors is the value you bring to the people you serve. It's important to know your strengths and personality and leverage them.
When thinking about your leadership brand, there are two considerations.
How you are seen internally in your credit union:
- by your boss, peers, direct reports, board of directors, and others?
How you are seen by others outside of your organization:
- on social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc?
- at events including credit union conferences, networking events, workshops, trainings, etc?
There is often a gap between how we want to be viewed and how others view us. Perceptions are not always reality, but perceptions are how other people view us through their own filter.
How do you know what your leadership brand is?
Before you determine what you want to be known for and how you want to be seen, it’s important to determine how others view you now. Once you become aware of your leadership brand, you can shift your behaviors or actions to consciously design your leadership brand.
There are many ways to gain feedback on your performance and how others perceive you. First, ask yourself, how do others view me?
How do you show up at work?
Passive, disengaged, mediocre, thrown together OR engaged, passionate, supportive, positive, professional and polished? Are you spending time at the coffee station complaining? Or are you seen as a supportive and positive influence?
How do you show up in life? Are you late to meetings and unprepared?
Do you miss deadlines? Can you handle issues yourself, or do you upward delegate to your manager? Do you deliberately coach and develop your employees?
How do you show up outside of work?
Are you approachable and friendly at outside events? Do you keep to yourself or use networking to your advantage? How do you show up on social media? Does your picture reflect who you want to portray? Is it professional? Are your posts negative or positive? Personally, I avoid talking about politics and other sensitive subjects on social media.
How do you show up at industry events?
Passive, unprofessional, insecure, uninterested OR professional, positive, upbeat, smiling and confident? You should always be mindful of what others are experiencing about you. People are always forming impressions.
In addition to self-reflection, you can also employ feedback tools such as:
- 360 degree assessment,
- asking your manager for feedback,
- asking colleagues for feedback,
- conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, and
- using a program like Survey Monkey to survey colleagues about your strengths and development opportunities.
Once you understand how you are currently perceived, you can use that information to deliberately design your leadership brand. Think about how you want to be viewed inside and outside of your credit union. Designing your leadership brand is not about trying to be someone you are not. Rather, it’s understanding who you are and how you want to be perceived by others.
Every interaction you have with someone is an opportunity—an opportunity to make a great impression, an opportunity for a promotion, an opportunity to connect with someone who may be your next boss, or an opportunity to attract new opportunities.
Your leadership brand can take years to build, but can be ruined overnight. Be mindful of how you are perceived, both inside and outside of your organization. You want to carefully manage and protect your brand.
Let’s start today to deliberately shape your leadership brand.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when crafting your leadership brand:
- What do I want to be known for as a leader?
- How might others currently perceive me?
- What is the gap?
- What behaviors can I start changing immediately?
- What actions can I take in the next seven days?
I'd love to hear from you in the comments. What is one aspect of your leadership brand you want to leverage? Are there any behaviors you can change to positively impact your brand?
Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, leadership consultant and founder of Envision Excellence, LLC in the Washington, D.C., area. Her mission is to create exceptional cultures by teaching leaders how to be exceptional. Maddalena facilitates management and executive training programs and team-building sessions and speaks at leadership events. Prior to starting her business, she was an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. Contact her at 240.605.7940 or firstname.lastname@example.org.