As a leader, who are you?
If you posed that question to your team, how would they answer?
Could they say what you stand for? What you believe in?
If they can’t easily answer those questions, you have a personal branding problem.
Your personal brand is a vital part of your ability to lead because it reinforces your credibility and inspires people to follow you. It also builds your credibility with potential customers, and gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
What is a personal brand?
PwC careers describes it as “Your brand is your reputation. It’s your calling card. It’s what you’re known for and how people experience you. It’s about bringing who you are to what you do and how you do it.”
Today, people experience you in person but they also experience you online. Your digital presence has just as much impact on people, so anything you put out on social media or on your website shapes their opinion of you.
Whatever you say and do becomes part of your personal brand, so to reinforce your credibility, you must pay close attention to what you’re doing.
Building and protecting your personal brand.
The most important part of your personal brand – and your credibility – is your authenticity.
It’s not sustainable to maintain a false or inaccurate image. One slip and your credibility is ruined. Of course, people can spot a fake quickly, too. It’s essential your personal brand reflects the true you, ‘warts and all.’ There is no one quite like you, and that’s the point you need to make.
Keeping authenticity in mind, here are three things you can do to solidify your personal brand and reinforce your leadership credibility.
- Know what you want to be known for.
As leader, you probably have firm ideas about how your team should work, or what you expect from them. You might have firm ideas about the way the business should be running and what you want to see for the future. You probably also have firm ideas about the way people should be treated at work, and in the broader community.
Those are the things you should be known for. When people talk about you, they should be saying, “Yes, she’s the one who supported me when I needed help” or “That’s the leader who won’t tolerate waste because it could be put to good use in the local community….”
YOU choose what you want to be known for because if you don’t, others will do it for you.
- Check your digital footprint.
Take the time to look over your social media accounts and assess your digital presence. Is it consistent with the brand you want to present? If a total stranger visited your page, what impression would he or she form?
If there are elements that are inconsistent, remove them or, where possible, rewrite to be clear with your position. You may even want to delete old pages or accounts which no longer serve you. Anything you share online should be laser targeted to support your personal brand.
- Start the conversation
You know who you are and what you stand for. You know how to get your message across. The next thing to do is work out who needs to hear you and get to know you, then start the conversation. Go out and be seen. Build contacts and networks on and offline, and share your opinions. Remember, though; it’s a conversation, not an advertising campaign. You won’t build your leadership credibility by big-noting yourself. Just talk. That’s all there is to it.
A clearly defined and authentic personal brand will give you the edge when it comes to credibility and to being a powerful leader.
Do you have a personal brand? What are you known for?
Let’s get a conversation happening below and share our ideas and tips on personal branding.