Successful leaders stand for something – and are known for it. This is your personal brand. Many entrepreneurs and business owners recognise the value of a personal brand because they can leverage it for their business. However, a personal brand is valuable for internal leaders as well:
- You become the “go to guy/gal” in your organisation for your expertise.
- You guide your own career path.
- Your work becomes more meaningful and rewarding.
- Decision-making becomes easier, because you use your personal brand as a guide.
- You attract and retain the best people (those aligned with, and inspired by, your brand).
- It’s easier to approach people outside your organisation for help.
- You become a role model for team members who want to build their own personal brand.
Your personal brand is not based on a logo, clever slogan, or your personality. It’s based on two things: your expertise and your network. In other words, it’s about what you know and who you know.
As a leader, you already have expertise, knowledge and insights that others value. By sharing it, you help others and build your own credibility.
To establish your authority, put a stake in the ground and stand for something. If you haven’t yet decided on an area of expertise, here are some clues to help you identify it:
- Leaving aside your role as their manager, what else do your team members ask you about?
- What do peers and colleagues ask you about (again outside your formal role in the organisation)?
- Do you have an external profile – say, with the media or public?
- Are you passionate about something in your industry?
- Are you passionate about something related to your role (for example, marketing, customer service, or finance)?
- Are you passionate about something related to your work as a manager or leader (leadership, teamwork, talent retention, or goal setting)?
- Are you passionate about some other aspect of your professional life (networking or media relations)?
- Are you passionate about something bigger than your organisation but related to it (corporate social responsibility, climate change, Generation Y in the workplace, working away from a traditional office, female leaders, or outsourcing)?
Although it’s important to know your expertise, this isn’t essential for everything else. Even if you’re not sure of your expertise yet, accept whatever feels right now. For some people, this is a lifelong journey, so start the journey anyway.