When we think of a brand, we might think of a large, recognizable corporation like Coca-Cola, Nike or Amazon. it’s easy to associate branding with companies with easily identifiable logos that offer a product to a consumer. Branding – or brand management – doesn’t apply to leaders. Does it?
It may seem surprising, but branding isn’t just for companies. Our professional identity – the way we portray ourselves in the world to colleagues and citizens – is our own personal brand. Like corporate brands, personal brands can be positive or negative. So, how do you want to be seen in the world? If someone you’ve met was asked them about you, how would you like them to describe you?
The Importance of Your Personal Brand
A brand is what distinguishes you; what makes you unique. To put it shortly: Personal branding is how people remember you.
It’s how you present yourself online and offline to your citizens, your colleagues and your network.
Everything from the way you handle phone conversations and emails you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting plays a part in the larger message you’re sending about your brand.
Partly it’s a matter of substance: what you have to say and how well you say it. But it’s also a matter of style. Do your communications demonstrate a command of technology? In meetings, do you keep your contributions short and to the point?
Your brand should be authentic and true to you. You want to build your brand on your true strengths.
You also need to be consistent in your branding. As an example, if you are striving to present yourself as tech savvy, make sure that you are promoting that through all your interactions. Don’t just get rid of paper in your file cabinets—take meetings paperless, bring new solutions to the table, such as agenda management automation or online permit requests, and promote mobile solutions for law enforcement officers or inspectors.
Leadership is Influence Power
Power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you’re thinking like a leader, you don’t need the authority of an organizational chart to be one. The fact is when you lead yourself, you’re a leader!
The reality is leadership relies on building influence—and influence is not about speaking louder or shouting your opinions. Many times, the people who have the most influence are not those with high-ranking titles. More often, leaders who can influence have a calm yet strong and confident tone, so that their impact is understood and respected.
If you’re going to build influence in the workplace, you need to speak through your actions. Part of this comes into play when you build consistency. Working hard consistently and getting consistently good results shows people that you’re a force to be reckoned with.
Finally, remember that influence is a two-way street. The more you believe in the people around you and incorporate their ideas into your vision, the more they’ll believe in your ideas and incorporate them into their work habits.
If you want to build up this kind of relationship with your coworkers and team, you first have to listen. Listen to everyone’s opinion, and encourage people to speak up, especially if they don’t often voice their opinions. When you’re trying to get people on your side, genuine listening is a valuable step: It builds relationships, ensures understanding and resolves conflicts.
By building this environment, your colleagues will come to see you as a leader, and your opinions will naturally be heard, acknowledged, and respected as a result.
The Power of Personal Branding
Leadership is all about seeing and creating a brighter and better future. It’s about inventing, innovating, creating, building, improving, and transforming education, healthcare, business, government, technology, and every aspect of our lives and the world we live in.
The biggest mistake leaders make when it comes to their personal brand is thinking that they don’t have to proactively manage it. Everyone has a personal brand—it just may not be what you want it to be. By being intentional and proactive, leaders can help shape their own reputation, as well as the impact and influence of their team.
Melissa Henley is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is Director of Customer Experience at Laserfiche, an enterprise software company that has served the public and private sectors for over 30 years. Customers are at the heart of all Melissa does, and her passion is around connecting people to content that can have a genuinely positive impact on their lives. Melissa brings over 20 years of marketing experience across multiple industries, including government, finance, and higher education. Read her posts here.