The way we work has changed dramatically and continues to advance at a rapid pace. This is in part due to increased globalisation, technological advances, the advent and rise of social media and the blurring of the lines between our professional and personal lives.
Hyper-complexity is the new normal and whether you like it or not, in order to succeed in this increasingly demanding global economy, you need to differentiate yourself. Having a great career history is not enough, you need to have a strong personal brand that has been deliberately cultivated. You must be able to confidently communicate your unique value proposition.
Today, personal branding shapes reputation and expectations. An authentic personal brand is about strategic positioning and consistency in both online and offline channels. This allows individuals the ability to heighten their recognition as experts in their field, boost their reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence.
Personal branding sends a clear, unambiguous message about who you are and what you have to offer. Additionally, a strong and accurate personal brand helps you become known for what you are good at, differentiates you from your peers, and can position you as an expert.
You only ever get one chance to make a good first impression
We have heard this old adage many times, and it happens to be true. If you want stakeholders to buy into your ideas, believe your communications and/or take action on your recommendations, they need to recognise you as a credible leader. Credibility is a combination of being seen by others to be trustworthy, convincing, and reliable, and requires a combination of demonstrated competence, underpinned by expert knowledge.
You only ever get one chance to make a good first impression and your personal brand will be a major contributor to the impression created in the mind of the person or team you are interacting with.
Personal branding is a leadership requirement.
Through personal branding, leaders shape their reputation and the expectations others have of them.
We recognise leaders with strong personal brands, as their brand is a core element of their leadership style. Richard Branson, Rupert Murdoch, Arianna Huffington and Christine Lagarde come to mind. These leaders recognise that their personal brand is an asset and live their professional lives through this filter. It is through this filter that leaders can identify what they want to be known for. It helps them focus and relinquish tasks that do not reinforce their brand. Becoming more mindful about your brand will change your perspective on how you define it and how you want to be perceived.
A key element of the credibility paradigm is that leaders lead by example, further reinforcing their brand proposition. Take Richard Branson as an example – everyone at Virgin knows what he stands for and if they are ambitious, they emulate his behaviour and style. This reinforces his brand proposition.
Another key element is visibility – a distinguishing characteristic that Branson, Murdoch, Huffington, and Lagarde share. Your stakeholders need to see you being a leader. You must be visible.
Developing the wrong leadership brand undermines your credibility. Conversely, a strong personal brand reinforces your credibility, which generates maximum value.
Melissa Lewis is the founder of Style Confidante, which helps high-performing, driven women working in male-dominated industries to achieve greater executive presence. She helps uncover the blind spots for women who have the credibility but lack the visibility to achieve the success they deserve. For many of them, their missing ‘X factor’ is not their IQ or EQ but rather their PQ, their presence quotient – which brings together Charismatic Character, Brand Substance and Executive Style. Melissa is the first accredited practitioner to bring to Australia the only scientifically-validated tool to measure and improve executive presence.