Sunday, April 14, 2013

As a Leader: What’s your Personal Brand?

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow; the shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing". -Abraham Lincoln

Leadership brand is less about "HOW," more about "WHY."  It is less about what you Look - the stereotypical leadership, and more about what you think - thought leadership. Why do you want to be a leader, and which value can you bring in. 

A personal brand is the total experience of others capturing the “Yourness” of you on who you are and what you represent as an individual; as a leader.  So as a leader, how do you articulate your value? Or in other words: what is your personal brand?

1. The Essence of the "Youness” of You

Personal branding is the well-blended leadership traits of substance & style; it’s like a business brand - your true Quality and Usefulness to society, are the determinants; 

  • The “Youness in You" means the inner you, who are you, from the bottom of your heart, the color of your DNA, and the top of your mind. Once you discover who you truly are, allow those good values to guide you. The Words will Flow and will take you places you never thought you could go.  
  • The Better You: Besides that, the life is also a journey to pursue "better you," the updated version of you - how the life journey refines you, or tarnish you (the worse case scenario); or the deeper you (in-depth thought--you are deeper than what you may think you are)., etc.  
  • Convey “Youness” Message:  Being able to quickly articulate the value that you  bring to others is critical to helping others learn about how you can benefit them. If you are unclear about your own value, others have no hope of understanding how you can help them, and will move on to someone they can understand.     

2. Connect Your Dots 

Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken”~ Oscar Wilde

In nature, everything is connected with something else. The authentic leaders follow both heart and mind, as nature is their navigator, to connect dot in life path. Thus, personal branding is to discover your strength, your belief, even it's unconventional, controversial or risky, but the value of your leadership brand is uniqueness.

  • Connect your dots and discover where your unique values to motivate employees, to activate top leadership and to bring calm to chaos without judgment; our value is in influence, our passion is in energy and our expertise is in the dots! 
  • Take an Objective View: Sometimes people are blocked by modesty norms. Not that we should go about proclaiming we are "all that and a bag of chips", but that we take an objective view of what we bring -- authentically, even humbly, but with the confidence that self-knowledge brings.  
  • Branding Values is Practicing Behaviors in Oneself.  Sometimes there’s gap between self- reflection and how others viewing you due to social, cultural or cognizant difference, so leaders have to make influence on toning ecosystem: The consistency of connecting dots need be in the practice of the many great values, highlight some unique and outstanding ones as a brand and a personal tagline.

3. How to “Brand” One’s Authentic-Self

Your personal brand should well reflect the "substance" of you, and your style, your value and your taste, however, sometimes, the brand may just like gift wrapping paper, can't tell what's inside. How to “brand” one’s authentic self effectively?

  • Create a solid vision: It is not necessarily an easy task to "brand" one's authentic self in a competitive and seemingly unforgiving market-driven environment. A good brand starts with the person being absolutely clear about what they do, who they will do it for, and crystal clarity about what value they will bring to the table: from creating a solid vision and mission statement to act the way following well-set principles. 
  • Taking a strengths-based approach seems like an appropriate starting point, but how to proceed from there can prove challenging for many who are less inclined to brand selves according to the requirements or expectations of a global economy. Perhaps the value of "soft skills," and the personal attributes needed to influence change, can be under-estimated when looking to market the professional self? 
  • Translating the skills through a brand insight exercise by filling in these blanks: I use my talents such as ______, to be ________, Why? Satisfy which need, achieve what goals; deliver what results __________, for whom? Team members, colleagues, clients, people profession..._________.
  • Noticing the difference between personal branding and negative style of self-promotion: Why some types of self-promotion are negative, such as: Being the smartest person in the room, taking the credit, not the blame, or competing for everything, etc, perhaps it is due to the ego, superficial-ism or lack of empathy. 
Your brand, just like the clothes of your character, needs to be colorful, but not flamboyant; nature and delightful. Such “Youness in you” discovery process takes the courage to voice out who you are based on self-reflection, and become consistent to maintain the brand the authentic YOU, it's not an easy job.


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