FountainBlue’s April 13 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand, featuring:
Facilitator, Lynn Hunsaker, Customer Experience Optimization Strategist at ClearAction LLC, CEO & President at Marketing Operations Partners, Inc. & Marketing Operations Future Forum
Panelist Monica Bajaj, Senior Engineering Manager, Cisco
Panelist Megan Bozio, Senior Director, License Management Services, Oracle
Panelist Susan Hailey, Director, Executive Talent Acquisition, eBay
Panelist Jennifer Millier, Vice President, Management and Solutions Development Unit, Hewlett Packard
Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at HP. Below are notes from the conversation.
Our panelists were women who represented different companies, roles and levels, supporting a range of product and service offerings, with training from technical to business, but also women who had so much in common:
- They had the experience and self-awareness to proactively build and develop their brand, and the passion and desire to share their knowledge and learnings with others.
- They had the wisdom to share their advice, what to do and what not-to-do, and tell stories which resonate with the audience, and providing tips and suggestions for managing their own brand.
- They generally had experience across multiple companies and roles, and facilitated transitions between roles by developing, expanding and growing their brand and network.
- They took proactive measures to grow and expand and explore their brand.
They shared the following advice about executive branding:
Know Your Brand
- Reflect on who has the brand you admire and what qualities you like about these people, be they leaders, managers or influencers, and adopt these qualities as part of your own brand.
- Create and maintain a brand which says what you want it to say about you, where what people say about you when you’re not in the room or when you’ve left the room is something that you can be proud of.
- Know your value proposition – what you do well that others would pay well for you to do – and communicate it in a way which makes sense to others around you.
- Embrace feedback from others around you to understand how you are perceived, and how well it overlaps with how you want to be perceived. Don’t contradict the feedback of others, but look to the essence of the message to see how it can help you better understand yourself and the image you project to others.
- Enlist colleagues, mentors, and others you admire to help you understand and articulate your brand and build and tweak your brand in the direction you want, reviewing it often to ensure that it fits your needs and objectives.
- Don’t be afraid to shift your brand from one field to another, from one company to another, but before you do that, know why you want to/need to do that.
- Consider adopting a brand which is strategic while also being process-oriented, seeing the big picture while executing on the details.
Communicate and Act to Reinforce the Brand You Want
- Make consistent commitments to deliver results for every project they undertake, stretching themselves to prepare for the next project. Their brand reflects these results.
- Say what you’ll, and do what you say effectively, knowing why what you said was important for yourself and for the various stakeholders with whom you’re engaged.
- Know your objectives before communicating and acting, but also know what your various audiences need, and find that middle ground to meet both needs.
- If you choose a leadership role in technology, follow the same steps in creating and maintaining and communicating your brand, but do know that there are still far fewer women in tech companies in tech roles, and you might have to be just that much better to get the credibility you seek.
- Be ever willing to take on the tough challenges, and focus as much on relationship-development as on delivering outstanding tangible results on time.
- Clearly communicate your accomplishments and that of your team, as well as your desired next project and direction, while encouraging others to do the talking on your behalf.
Work with Companies to Shift Their Brand
- Select a company where you fit the culture and values, and work with them to shift and grow the brand to align with corporate objectives and market changes.
- Companies, like executives, will be leveraging social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook to communicate their brand, so those who know how to integrate social media to reinforce and communicate their brand may be able to do the same for companies and vice versa.
In the end, the executive branding conversation centers around building and reinforcing a brand that you can be proud of and stretching it in a direction *you* choose, making incremental steps, increasing your impact and emphasizing your results.