The CEO and executive team are expected to set the tone that the rest of the company follows but is that the case when it comes to personal branding?
People typically understand the importance of a company brand and the need to proactively manage their external reputation but does this understanding extend to the workforce within? If not, it should do because with an estimated 40 per cent of the global population using social media, you can guarantee that at least a few of those 3 billion users are at work right now!
A personal brand encompasses everything centred around you and your public image – on paper, on the internet, and in person. Loosely defined, it is a way of establishing and consistently reinforcing who you are and what you stand for in your life and in your career.
A personal brand lives in the minds of others and refers to a combination of elements that can include a career path, friends, networks, interests, experiences, reputation, personal style, personality and more. Over time, these aspects all come together to build an image of you that others hold in their mind – an identity that is not static, but one that changes as often as you do.
A personal brand can reach far deeper than any company brand ever will because people buy people and all relationships are human to human. It is important for leaders to define their authentic leadership style and develop an awareness of what they are doing and why but communicating that has a far greater impact when you think outside of the company limits.
The company brand is a great way to amplify a message, but it shouldn’t stop there. The more that leaders and their teams show up individually – as representatives of the company and more importantly as human beings with character, stories and purpose – the broader the collective reach and future opportunities for growth.
You may know it as a company or business but whatever label it wears, it will undoubtedly be powered by people. Employees are the single most powerful stakeholder group that any business has; and organisations who are not encouraging and supporting employees to craft and build authentic personal brands, are missing a valuable opportunity to gain an advantage.
Every person in every company was, at some point, hired because of their expertise, experience and character but has the company culture driven them to become “work characters” designed to survive office life?
People are fascinating. Imperfection is perfect, it’s human and the world needs more of it. Whether you’re a CEO, a business owner or an employee who is building a personal brand, please know that people want to see you. As you are. With your unique perspective. With character, stories and life experience. These are the personal brands that have humanness at their core. They’re the ones that people connect with, the ones people trust and who they’ll happily recommend to others.
From an internal perspective, there is no better way to affirm just how important employees are than to position them as thought leaders and increase their confidence by showing them how to best showcase passion, personality and expertise. It’s a win-win situation – employees will feel valued while the rest of the world gets to see what an amazing company they work for.
From an external perspective, personal branding not only has the potential to reshape the leadership landscape and increase diversity; it has the power to bring hidden talent to the forefront, increase staff retention and attract new audiences.
A company brand is still an essential part of business strategy but the workforce – ordinary human beings – are capable of extraordinary things so take a moment to imagine the impact a company full of purpose-driven, human brands could have for the individual, the business and beyond…
A company is started by one or two people, it is run by a select few but the future is most certainly built on collective effort.