This weeks question comes from Sean Ellis at the University of Georgia. Sean asks, “Hugh, how do you develop your personal brand in general? With management, customers, peers or customers?”
Sean, that’s a really good question and I think the best way to position this idea is by sharing with you what my old boss, Tom Peters, used to say. He said, “be distinct or be extinct.” Tom believed that if there is nothing very distinctive about your work, in the eyes of the people who are important to you, you’d be extinct.
How do you become distinct? I have three strategies for developing your brand. They are:
1. Clarify your default brand
2. Clarify your desired brand
3. Clarify your designed brand
Let me put some meat on these bones.
Your default brand: Your default brand is what it is you are known for? It is the four words or phrases people use to describe you. If they describe you as evil, wicked, bad and nasty…your toast.
Your desired brand: Your desired brand is what you want to be known for in order to be seen as a strategic business partner or a valued added contributor? What do you need and desire to be known for so that you can have a seat at the executive decision making table? What do you need to be known for so you are distinctive in the eyes of the people that matter most to you?
Your designed brand: Your designed brand is how you plan on behavioralizing your desired brand? You may say that in order to live out your desired brand you will ask more questions than make statements. You might invite more people into the decision making process, or when working with others you’ll tell them what they’re doing well as opposed to what they’re doing poorly. These are examples of a desired brand that has been converted into actionable behavior.
Under the show notes I’ll attach my detailed instructions for learning how to each of the above steps. Specifically, you’ll learn how to determine your default brand.
Sean, and everyone else watching, I want to emphasize that your brand either helps or hurts your performance. Your brand either creates willing followers or it doesn’t. In turn, your brand is very important to your success.
This weeks Challenge: My challenge to you this week is for you to do the very first step in my branding process. Learn what your default brand is. If you do this you’ll have a much more effective workweek.
Hugh’s Brand Development Process:
Step 1. Define your Default Brand. The starting point for building your leadership brand involves writing four words or phrases that you believe best describe your leadership. Don’t overthink this; simply capture what you see is the essence of your leadership.
Step 2. Create a list of eight to ten people that you trust and respect. They can be colleagues, managers, coworkers, direct reports, former employees, and or friends. Your list should be a list of people whose opinion you value.
Step 3. Call and or speak in person with those on your list and let them know you are involved in a leadership activity that requires candid feedback. As someone you respect, his or her assistance in seeing your leadership from an outsider’s perspective is essential. Specifically, ask them to provide you with four words or phrases they believe best describe your leadership. It can be a one word descriptor such innovative or inspiring. It can also include phrases such as “can do attitude.” This step will capture thirty-two to forty words that represent what others see as your leadership brand. Review your words and compile a list of themes or patterns. Similar words or synonyms should be distilled into a one-word descriptor that best represents what you believe is the tone and or feel of the words.
Step 4: The overarching objective of step #4 is to clarify your leadership brand / reputation from others perspective and to distill your leadership into the fewest words possible. To do so, whittle your list down to a list of four or five words that best represent your current leadership. This is your Default Brand.
Step 5. Determine if there is a gap between the personal descriptors you generated and the list generated by your observers. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I being seen in ways consistent with my goals and aspirations?
2. Is my list of descriptors (both my own and from my observers) distinctive or simply the price of entry for being in my role?
3. What is the upside and downside to my leadership brand / reputation?
4. Am I excited about the words used to describe me, or am I neutral?
Step 6. Define your Desired Brand by asking yourself the following questions:
1. What is it that I want to be known for?
2. What traits, characteristics and or values are essential and or non-negotiable to me?
This step is less about logic and what’s probable; it is rooted in articulating your highest hopes and aspirations for you and your leadership.
Step 7. Define your Designed Brand. After determining your Desired Brand, ask how you can behaviorally live your Desired Brand. What behaviors will you exhibit in order to be seen as your Desired Brand? Again, ask yourself if the behaviors you’ve identified are distinctive or simply necessary for being in your role?
If you have any questions, or would like help working through the seven steps to a more compelling leadership brand, contact Hugh Blane at 206.829.9413, or email him at Hugh@Clarisconsulting.net.