27 September 2023

Is your personal brand fit for purpose?

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May Busch* says most leaders develop a ‘personal brand’ by which they are recognised — but in these rapidly changing times it can easily become outdated.

So often, a leader will adopt a certain personal brand of leadership and stick to it. It might even be a point of pride, as in “this is how I am, take it or leave it”.

Times change: What’s expected from leaders evolves, and what team members value changes too.

Leaders who stick to their set ways of doing things can easily become outdated dinosaurs. Here’s how to keep this from happening to you and your personal brand.

Recently, Mary (not her real name) told me her boss — let’s call him Charles — advised her to “channel your most aggressive inner-Charles and tell ’em what you think” in her upcoming meetings.

Clearly, Mary’s boss perceived her as lacking in confidence and not speaking up, which is the part of her brand she’s working on.

However, what if she doesn’t have an aggressive inner-Charles?

For Mary, who’s come up in this new world of work, Charles’ advice sounded old school and out of touch.

Your personal brand is in the eye of the beholder.

On the one hand, Mary’s personal brand with her boss isn’t what she wants it to be. At the same time, Charles’s personal brand with Mary isn’t what he thinks it is.

Mary and her boss both can evolve their personal brands as leaders and be more effective.

When it comes to your personal brand as a leader, you must be the guardian.

If you’re lucky enough to get feedback that change is needed, it’s in your interest to act on it.

If there’s no one brave enough to clue you in, it’s your responsibility as a leader to find out.

Before you make any sudden changes, know that your personal brand as a leader has two parts — one that’s constant and the other that evolves.

The core promise of your brand is the part that doesn’t change over time, or at least not much.

It’s based on the foundation of who you are as a person. It’s about your values. It’s authentic by definition.

It’s what leads people to think things like: “I can count on you to do what you say you’re going to do.

“I can trust you to keep confidences. When making decisions, I know you will do your best to do the right thing and not just focus on your own self-interest.”

Then there’s the part of your personal brand that can change while still being authentic.

This is what keeps you relevant no matter how old or young you are.

For example, this could be the way you communicate and the language you use, or how you motivate and hold people accountable as a leader.

Make sure you’re evolving with the times.

When trying out your personal brand, think of it like clothing styles — you can adapt your wardrobe to be current while still staying true to yourself.

For example, the way people dress post-pandemic is more relaxed, while the 1980s were about the ‘power suit’.

In a work context, today’s leaders are expected to display empathy and role model collaboration rather than be all-knowing heroes who dictate what gets done in ‘command and control’ mode.

Who you are as a person evolves too with your experiences.

So, make sure your personal brand as a leader is keeping up with the way you’re growing as a human being.

Don’t get stuck in the way you’ve always done it if it’s no longer consistent with who you’ve become.

There’s no time like the present to work on your personal brand as a leader. You owe it to yourself to make sure your brand is both authentic and fit for purpose.

What are you doing to adapt your personal brand as a leader in this changing environment?

*May Busch works with smart entrepreneurs and top managements to build their businesses. She can be contacted at [email protected].

This article first appeared at maybusch.com.

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