Amazon’s Jeff Bezos famously said,
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Now there’s a thought…What do your colleagues say about YOU when you’re not in the room?
If you want to accelerate your career progress, it’s worth investing some time and effort in your personal brand, particularly if you aspire to leadership roles. Here are some suggestions to get you started. You don’t have to work through them all, but if you do it will help you get clear on what’s working – and what’s missing – about your personal brand.
What (or who) are your favourite brands – and why?
Think of the brands – corporate or personal – that you admire. What qualities do they have that stand out for you? Notice how what tops your list now may not have done a few years, or even a few months ago (for example, the computer I’m typing this on is no longer my favourite brand, sad to say).
What do your favourite brands do well?
It may be they respond to questions well or provide support and advice. Or they set a great example. Or they are right at the cutting edge of what’s new and what’s next.
What would it take for you to drop a brand you admire?
Think of famous individuals who’ve fallen from grace – or a company that upset its loyal buyers. What did they do to lose all those fans? What might a brand you admire do that would have you dropping them for a competitor?
Now turn the lens on yourself
What standout qualities do you have that others admire? Stuck for ideas? First of all you can look at past appraisals and career discussions at work. Maybe you’ve done an assessment of your personality, or your personal strengths.
What are you known for doing well? What other characteristics and attributes are you known for (warts and all)? Maybe you’re a straight talker, who tells it like it is. Or you’re a good listener who always gives others fair hearing.
What obstacles stand between you and a leadership role? By all means write ‘my boss’ if you must but if that’s so, figure out how you’re going to steer that relationship so your boss becomes your advocate. How does your current employer’s brand align with your own? Is it a brand that you will be proud to step up to a leadership role with?
Do people know where they stand with you? If not, you may benefit from giving more feedback – little and often. Remember that feedback isn’t about landing criticism on someone – it’s not about you, it’s about what will benefit the recipient. Remember too that feedback can and should be positive, i.e. praise, as well as negative, i.e. corrective.
Get some feedback
Now turn the lens outwards, to those who know. It’s time to get some feedback – and take careful note of what others say. Ask trusted colleagues to give you the gift of some clear, actionable feedback about how they see you.
What would they describe as your standout qualities? What do they observe you doing well? What other attributes do they believe you have (again, warts and wall)? Prepare well before launching into this; for example, you may need to write down these questions to focus the conversation. For now, that may be enough – you can leave their views on your leadership potential for another time. Thank the giver for their feedback and be sure to check back in with them about what you notice as you take action in response to it.
Getting the feedback habit will help you develop and build your leadership brand.