GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: Secrets to Embracing and Maximizing Your Unique Value as a Leader by Suzanne Bates, author of "Discover Your CEO Brand: Secrets to Embracing and Maximizing Your Unique Value as a Leader."
Most of us fully appreciate the importance of a brand to companies like McDonalds , FedEx , or Apple .
But, what do people mean when they talk about personal brands?
And, why exactly do you need a brand, anyway?
A brand is a thought (accompanied by a feeling) that lives in the mind of another person. It’s the shorthand way people think about you. In product marketing, there’s an old saying - “a brand is more than a word; it’s the beginning of a conversation.”
The question is, what’s the conversation people are having about you?
When you consider some of the iconic, name-brand business leaders of our time, they all have a well-understood traits or values. These clearly-defined qualities have shaped reputations so powerful, that they influence very DNA of the organizations they lead.
- Alan Mulally led a miraculous turnaround at Ford Motor Company by bringing his values to a complex, almost tribal and stifling leadership culture. His discipline and exuberance have utterly reshaped the way they do business at Ford .
- Anne Mulcahy’s passion for the people and culture of Xerox Corporation rescued the once-great American brand from near extinction and restored it to profitability. Mulcahy’s unwavering belief in the Xerox values, made people at Xerox believe in themselves.
- Larry Page returned to the helm at Googlein 2011 at a time when there was a perception the company had lost its innovative edge to competitors like Facebook. Page’s reputation as the innovator was on display when just months after being named CEO again, the company launched Google + and received rave reviews.
Those are a few compelling examples of leaders whose brands drive value into the company brand. You may be wondering, what these leaders have to teach you, about your brand. The answer is – a lot! Your brand at the most fundamental level, answers the question “Who are you?” And the “who you are” when well understood, is one of the most powerful assets you have in your career. Your brand influences others and shapes your professional destiny.
"The first step to discovering your brand is to embrace the idea that you have a brand, that it has power, and that you can harness it to accelerate your career."
Personal brand is sometimes misunderstood. Personality is one aspect of who you are. But it isn’t the sum of your brand. Likewise, executive presence, from wardrobe and grooming to body language, energy and fitness are considered “brand” elements, but they are actually just a reflection of the inner you.
The core of your brand is your character, the values that define you. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and a reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” In "Discover Your CEO Brand", my goal is to help people look at their own treasure chest of experiences –life and career events, the ups and downs, successes and failures; stories that taught those lessons that are at the core of their brands.
The first step to discovering your brand is to embrace the idea that you have a brand, that it has power, and that you can harness it to accelerate your career. Then you must communicate those brand values, in order to win trust, influence others, and position yourself as an exceptional leader.
If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to think about your brand, because other people do. On your way to the top, learn who you are, and become highly skilled in communicating your brand to others. The “who you are” will be a deciding factor in your success.
Suzanne Bates is the author of Speak Like a CEO, Motivate Like a CEO, and her new book, Discover Your CEO Brand. She is the CEO of Bates Communicationsand a former award winning television journalist. You can follow her on thepowerspeakerblog.comand on Twitter at CEOCoachBates.