Are you taking control of your personal brand as a leader?

Posted in Leadership, Mentor Minute

Are you taking control of your personal brand as a leader?

The Globe and Mail, Wednesday, July 8 2015

What is your personal brand? How are you known? Is that how you want to be known? If yes, what can you leverage even more? If not, what are you doing that is diminishing your brand?

In other words, what is your reputation? And if it’s not what you want it to be, then what are you doing to fix it?

Traditionally, when we think of branding, we think of products. From packaged goods giants like Crest toothpaste, Coke and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran; to Molson Canadian or Heineken; to the Ford Mustang and the Porsche Carrera; to the iPhone and Blackberry; products, not people, have traditionally held the territory called “branding.”

But it is an interesting concept to apply to ourselves as leaders. Just like famous brands like Coke, we are also known by certain attributes. And with the addition of technologies like Facebook, Linked In, Snapchat, Instagram, blogging, personal websites, and the media, the need to be crystal clear on your what your personal brand actually is – and what you are saying about yourself – is critical.

Think of some famous people, and you will get an idea of the power of personal branding. Hillary Clinton. Rob Ford. Elaine Dickenson. Gregor Robertson. Eugenie Bouchard. Bill Gates. Each of these people are well known – and they are known by the many things that make up their personal brands. They are known by their values, their passions, their interests, their strengths, their attitude, as well as their weaker areas and sadly, often by their mistakes. As Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon said: “A brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver. To help you identify your personal brand and then set a plan to build off it, consider the following questions:

What are your values? Do you know? Do others know what you stand for?

What are your passions and interests? Do you pursue them or have they taken a back seat to the business of life?

Are you clear on your strengths and do you adequately leverage them?

Are you clear on the areas that are diminishing your brand? Do you have a plan to address them?

It is very powerful to know the answers, because that will allow you to leverage your strengths and values, and position yourself for the next big project or promotion. It will help you launch a business that is aligned with who you are, what you stand for and what truly interests you and then attract the right customers that believe in the same thing (think Mountain Equipment Co-op or MEC). It will help you land a coveted job when you can present yourself with confidence and deep self-awareness.

Only you can protect and nurture your reputation. Only you can decide what you stand for and what you want to align yourself with. Only you can choose your predominant attitude and bring it. Only you can really determine what your personal brand will be.

Katie Bennett (@dbdcoaching) is an executive leadership and team coach in Vancouver, and runs Double Black Diamond Coaching, an executive coaching firm.