Your personal brand has to be carefully and purposefully cultivated for you to make the most positive impact on others, says Becky Tilney
We are all familiar with strong, successful business brands, ones that guide public perceptions and influence people to choose their product above a competitor’s. A personal brand is no different. If we are not purposeful in how we communicate ourselves, how can we expect other people to be positively influenced by us?
The impression we make and how we are perceived in each and every interaction is key to our individual success. One bad day in today’s highly competitive world can seriously affect a key business relationship.
A good personal brand will guide the decisions you make and the actions you take in difficult decisions. It will help you be more proactive in creating the reputation you want and it will set you apart from your peers.
The question is, how much control do we have over our brand, our reputation? Oscar Wilde was said to have observed: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
My belief is that we can all purposefully and consciously adapt our thoughts and behaviours to consistently be the best version of ourselves.
Empirical studies in neuroscience over the past 20 years have produced compelling evidence of how the grey matter in our brain related to temperament and personality traits can be developed over time, either as a result of life experience or through conscious effort. This neuroplasticity supports the concept of the ‘growth mindset’: the understanding that with the right focus and motivation, individuals can constantly learn and better themselves.
Essentially, behaviour – and therefore personal reputation – is a conscious choice.
An effective personal brand should comprise three words to act as your guiding principles in good times and in bad. They must convey your personal values and be powerful enough to feel aspirational. A strong brand is you at your very best and aims to help you set a new, higher norm for your chosen behaviour.
Look at the 15 core elements that follow and rate yourself on a scale of 1–10.
- Purposeful. I have a clear purpose which gives each day meaning and focuses my energy.
- Exceptional. I constantly endeavour to improve performance in pursuit of excellence.
- Consistent. I never allow my values to be compromised by external factors.
- Resilient. I have the energy and fortitude to bounce back from challenging situations.
- Self-Aware. I take time to understand my thoughts, feelings and behaviours and how these might impact those around me.
- Positive. I choose to see the good in every situation.
- Energising. I direct my positive energy towards others.
- Authentic. I am brutally honest with myself first (see #5).
- Adaptable. I know myself well enough to know how to flex my style and approach with others where appropriate.
- Empathetic. I seek to understand others’ motivations by putting myself in their shoes.
- Observant. I am alert to both verbal and non-verbal communication.
- Receptive. I remain open to others’ ideas, styles and methods.
- Humble. I keep my ego in check and don’t let it dictate my response.
- Brave. I feel the fear and do it anyway!
- Responsible. I own my choices and their results.
My own personal brand is ‘Authentic’, ‘Driven’ and ‘Inspirational’. Even on a bad day this reminds me to dig deep and find the energy I need to be a positive influence on others, both at work and at home. The welcome by-product of this conscious striving is that I’ve noticed significant improvements in my personal resilience and sense of wellbeing.
My business partner is on the other side of the personality spectrum: as a self-contained and highly independent introvert, her brand of ‘Responsible’, ‘Balanced’ and ‘Strong’ helps her recognise the value she brings to challenging situations by influencing others with her calm, evidence-based and rational thinking.
Good luck with defining your own personal brand and using it to help you navigate the tricky waters of both business and life.
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Becky Tilney is director of people and change consultancy DRIVE