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What's Your Label?

Ashraf Amlani - Thursday, March 31, 2011

SBN Events Coordinator Natalia Subrt recently attended an interesting event organized by IEEE Women in Engineering. She was impressed by an inspiring workshop led by Dr. Tara Cree, a principal at Knightsbridge Leadership Solutions. Natalia shares some key insights about the importance and strategies around developing your own leadership brand.

Personal branding, much like commercial brands such as Nike, Starbucks and Coach, play an important role in our social lives. The way we walk, sit at our desks, and format emails define how we are perceived by colleagues. “Having a brand is not a choice - managing the brand is.” Being ‘a ruthless business man’ is the personal brand of Jim Pattison; being ‘an every woman’ is the Oprah Winfrey’s brand. The majority of people have multiple brands – you are a leader in your team, and you are a spouse at home. Both of these social roles imply different skills and talents, therefore when managing the brand you should be considering who your targeted audience is. The power of brand comes into play in circumstances such as job-hunting or coming up for promotion. You can reach your goals by having a unique and clear brand, being seen as a specialist rather than generalist. Being authentic, consistent and very clear on what you are is of utmost importance.

Dr. Tara CreeSo, how do you define your brand? Dr. Cree suggests examining your core values first: what you can’t live without, and are not willing to compromise on. The core values are universal – they are applicable in absolutely all situations, whether it be at work, on vacation, at home or at a bar. Once you understand what your core values are, write down your passions: what gets you out of bed early in the morning, and what things you absolutely hate doing. Following your core values and passions sets the wheels in motion for a happy and successful career - you simply enjoy doing your work without compromising on anything.

Do not expect to have a clearly defined leadership brand in 10-20 minutes. You should collect feedback from close friends and relatives – the people who would not hesitate to tell you how you are perceived and what you actually are. Additionally, spend some time alone evaluating yourself. There is a difference between image management and brand management; and when it comes to brand, you want to avoid misleading people with something that you are not. Understanding your leadership brand is a lengthy process, but it will help you see and define talents and skills more clearly.

Having a well-defined leadership brand will help you move up the career ladder. Come up with a 30 second elevator pitch outlining your personality traits, skills and experiences that you bring to your company. Remember that what you are saying should mesh well with how you present yourself, because synergy between words and appearance will help people connect with you and your message. To achieve the career growth you desire faster, write down where you see yourself in 5 years. It could be challenging, especially if you are just starting your career; Dr. Cree suggests that you should imagine where you would like to be assuming that circumstances don’t change in the next 5 years. Re-evaluate your 5-year goal annually, to make sure that they are up-to-date with the family status, economic circumstances, corporate development and other factors.

To fulfill your goal, you should strategically decide on the actions that should be taken. You know best your strengths and weaknesses. Rather than focusing on improving your weaknesses, Dr. Cree recommends capitalizing on their strengths and further developing/enhancing the skills that you may have, but are not conscientiously aware of. Ask your friends, relatives and colleagues what they think your strengths are and you may be surprised to learn of skills you weren’t aware of; by making these unknown skills your strengths you will make your unique brand stronger.

Dr. SeussFrom one doctor to another, Dr. Seuss said it best when he wrote: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Explore the traits that make you unique and build your leadership brand to be well on your way to establishing a successful and satisfying career.





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