FountainBlue’s April 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives on our panel, and that our panelists shared their insights, suggestions and advice with poignant humor and candor. They speak from a broad range of perspectives, learnings, trainings and experience, but they had many things in common:
- They are articulate, successful, experienced professionals who have successfully and proactively managed their transitions throughout their career.
- They are passionate, people-focused leaders who think deeply, act thoughtfully, and constantly raise the bar for themselves and for those around them, in a positive, constructive way.
- They are deep thinkers who are self-aware enough to understand, accept and communicate their value, wise enough to seek alignment with who they are and what they do, and strategic and connected enough to find/build a job/career that fits who they are.
- They are exceptional problem-solvers and great go-to people when something tough needs to happen. Not only would they deliver measurable results, but they would engage a wide spectrum of stakeholders to achieve those results.
- They are open, humble, candid and genuine enough to share their stories, and invested in the success of others around them.
To our panel, creating and reinforcing an executive brand, at its best, is authentically communicating who you are, even when you’re at your worse. It’s having the strength, fortitude and courage to truly examine who you are, your unique value in a business context, and insisting on an alignment with who you are and what you do. One of our panelists call this the convergence of self, where the inner self and outer self echo and reinforce each other.
This brand evolves as we move from role to role, company to company, industry to industry, level to level. It threads through our career, and those adept at proactive brand management tells the story of her/his career path, with these common threads of purpose, values, integrity, and passion.
Sometimes it’s about understanding how your past roles impacting how you are coming across in a new role. Welcoming continuous feedback at all levels will help us examine how others see us, so that we can access whether it’s how we want to come across and what we can do about it.
Below is advice from our panelists regarding proactive management of brand:
- Know and accept yourself – your strengths and weaknesses. Leverage your strengths, bolster your weaknesses with support staff/team.
- Set yourself up for success by understanding what you do well, where you can grow, and selecting positions and roles with achievable stretch goals.
- Build a history as someone great to work with who can get things done.
- Communicate clearly who you are and what you stand for, and continually get feedback about how you are coming across.
- No matter where you have in-depth knowledge, take the time to rise up beyond your own reality and area of strength so that you can see a bigger picture for your group, division, organization, and industry. Having this perspective will help you have a better context for why people do the things they do, what the customer wants, what the market trends are, etc. This is important regardless of whether you want to stay at an individual contributor level or rise within an organization, as it will help you better understand how people, teams and businesses work.
- Align all aspects of your life, for how you do one thing is how you do everything.
- Learn at every opportunity, especially if there is an incongruence between what you think of others, what others think of you, etc.
- Welcome support from mentors, sponsors, and people-who-don’t-think like you, whether you are angling for a promotion, lateral move, new role, etc., or not. This will help you understand what they see as great in you so that you can nurture that, and help you see and perhaps welcome new opportunities for yourself, or pay in other ways that nobody would expect.
- Your values are part of your brand – being consistently authentic to values such as honesty, integrity, persistence, perseverance, decisiveness will help you build trust and a following, and otherwise serve you well.
The bottom line is that everyone has a brand, whether you know what it is or not, whether it’s positive, or not so much. People who proactively manage that brand so that it’s in alignment with their best authentic, realistic self will be best positioned for success.
- Tom Peter’s Article, The Brand Called You, published in Fast Company, www.fastcompany.com/28905/brand-called-you
- Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Book, Me 2.0 www.personalbrandingbook.com
We would like to thank and acknowledge our panelists for FountainBlue’s April 12 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Building and Reinforcing Your Executive Brand:
Facilitator Nancy Monson, Nancy Monson Coaching
Panelist Erin Jurgeleit, Chief of Staff, Global Compliance, PayPal
Panelist Vijaya Kaza, Director of Engineering, Cisco
Panelist Merline Saintil, Vice President, Technology Operations, Joyent
Panelist Joyce Tompsett, Evangelist & Technology Advisor, Silicon Valley Executive Briefing Center, EMC Corporation
Panelist Praveena Varadarajan, Vice President – Architecture, Technology & Services, FICO
Please also join us in thanking our gracious hosts at EMC.