When was the last time you refined your business strategy? If you’re like most of us during these crazy days, it’s probably being touched week by week. We know clarity on our company brand, tactics, people and goals is critical to achieving success. We set aside time to ask questions like “What’s changed in our environment? What opportunities exists? What threats do we face? What goals are we chasing? How do clients feel about us?” But we rarely, or in some cases, never, take the time to ask those same questions of ourselves to refine our personal leadership brand.
Your Personal Leadership Brand Matters
We are learning, changing and growing EVERY SINGLE DAY. But most of us are missing the opportunity to intentionally optimize our talents and competitive advantages. In fact, the past several months of the pandemic has already had a profound impact on me. It’s continuing to shape me in new, and often undefinable, ways. This awareness has brought me to a time of introspection and explicit realization that I have evolved over the last several years and so the way I define myself needs to evolve too.
As an external processor, I turned to my network to help me put words to the internal experience I was noticing and the resulting feedback was truly incredible. The experience brought surprising insights, confirmation and confidence that I didn’t expect. So, I wanted to share the questions I asked, the reason I asked them, and some suggestions on how to run this exercise on your own.
Select your audience
I selected a cross-section of people from multiple parts of my life with at least one individual representing these relationships: friends, family members, supervisors, co-workers, clients, leaders and peers of volunteer committees on which I serve. Then, I shared I was better trying to understand and define my brand. As valued connections, I asked them to do a top of mind response to help me gather ideas. This was not meant to be a burden. And, most answered all the questions with such articulation and truth I was often moved to tears.
Below are the five questions I asked of my audience. Ultimately, my goal was to learn how I’m perceived by each audience segment so I could start, stop or continue behaviors in line with the personal leadership brand I wanted to convey.
If you were to describe me to a friend in 3-5 words, what would they be?
This is an easy question for most people to answer, giving them a runway into thinking about the more though-provoking questions later. It also gave me insight into the impressions I was leaving on others in various areas of my life.
What unique competitive advantages do I have that I should be leveraging or developing further to be more valuable to the world around me?
Often times we dismiss our greatest strengths because they come easy to us and we don’t have to work hard to use them. We’ve been ingrained with ideas like “no pain, no gain” or “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” and “Easy come, easy go” and it leads down a thinking path that diminishes the value of experiences, ideas and outcomes that didn’t require pain, striving and effort. This question helps us realize where we SHOULD be expending energies to be more efficient and effective.
What has been one of the most valuable or memorable interactions we’ve had in the past?
Maya Angelou so aptly said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Your brand is built on the emotional connection people have with you and knowing how and when you made an impact allows you to examine your power and leverage it consistently going forward.
If you’ve had exposure to it, where have I gotten in my own way?
If we really want to grow, we have to know our own pitfalls. This is an easy way to approach feedback on your “opportunities for growth” and ensure you are getting a more holistic view of that potential cracks that could hinder future success.
If I was a well-known corporate brand, who would I be?
Examples: Goofy like Moosejaw, competitive like Nike, innovative like Apple, principled like Chick-fil-A… I am not identifying with any of these specifically-just sharing ideas if it helps prompt something.
Brands are strongest when they evoke feelings, connection and action. This is the most challenging question because people really need to think about it but it’s also been one of the most insightful for me. When people shared their ideas, I was able to think about how that brand showed up in the market…what did they do well? How could I emulate that experience in my piece of the world and how did I make it my own?
Analyze the results
Once I got the feedback, I applied ADVISA’s Data-Insight-Action approach. I looked at how this new qualitative data matched up with the quantitative data I had from my Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment Profile and my EQ-I (Emotional Intelligence) insights and used them to help me complete my own S-W-O-T analysis.
With all of the noise and chaos in this world today, I want my personal brand of leadership to be strong enough to attract and maintain supporters and advocates. And, I hope this exercise helps you do the same!
Interesting in hearing more from Stephanie Murphy? Read “A Love Letter to Leaders.”
Want more insight into ADVISA’s Data-Insight-Action approach? As a leadership strategy consultant, she strives to bring incredible energy, joy, creativity and care to every interactions. You can contact her directly via email.