When you hear the word ‘brand’ do you immediately think about companies such as Apple, Nike, Google or Amazon? While companies have a brand, so too do individuals. Being conscious of the brand and image you project is important to ensure it enhances, not detracts from your career.
Some people find the idea of thinking of themselves as a brand as cliché, or worse, inauthentic.
So to frame it another way, think about how people describe you in terms of what you are known for, and how you make them feel. Like it or not, this is your brand.
Leaders such as the late Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg and even, Donald Trump, are all known for something. They each have a distinct brand. In a world that’s constantly changing, it’s essential to nurture your brand so you can best position yourself for ongoing career success.
Live your core values
Knowing who you are and what you stand for is the first step. A person’s values help to shape their career drivers. They influence the decisions they will make including what type of organisations they’ll work for, the roles they’ll accept and what type of employee or leader they will be.
Issues arise when there’s a disconnect between a person’s stated values and their actions. To have a trustworthy brand, it’s important to be consistent. Ask yourself:
- How am I showing up every day?
- Am I acting with integrity?
- Is my behaviour congruent with my espoused values?
If it’s inconsistent you will be sending mixed messages to team members and colleagues, and eroding trust in your leadership.
Know your value proposition
When you ask people at work what you are known for, what would they say? Are you the implementer? The visionary? A leader who develops people? A person who connects people together? What you are known for is typically the distinct value that you bring to an organisation.
However, it may not be how you want to describe yourself. For example, if you are seen as the ‘doer’ and you want to be in a more senior leadership role you may want to consider how to reposition this image.
Invest in yourself
Just as corporates spend millions of dollars nurturing and promoting their brands, individuals need to think about how they invest in themselves. Staying relevant in your profession in terms of knowledge, skills development and industry experience is part of keeping you, and therefore the value you offer, current.
Don’t just wait for your organisation to invest in your development. Each year, set aside time and money to invest in learning and development that will enhance your career. For example, enrol in a free course available via sites such as edX, Coursera and Open2Study.
Be prepared to shift
Successful brands take on board feedback so that they continue to be successful. It’s the same for individuals. Being open to feedback and willing to take on board advice is all part of staying relevant and continuing to build and enhance your brand.
There may be times when your leadership style isn’t working effectively, you need to be ready to adjust and shift your style. It can help to enlist the support of a coach, mentor or advisor who will challenge your thinking and push you outside your comfort zone. Everything you do every day contributes to your brand in either a positive or negative manner. Consequently, being aware of your actions and how you treat people around you is crucial. Your career success starts with you – brand you! Nurture it.
Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress in complex environments. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’. For more information: www.michellegibbings.com or contact [email protected]