CEO / C-LEVEL PERSONAL BRAND AUDIT
I recommend that every CEO, Board Director and senior executive manager take stock and evaluate the whole concept of personal branding as it applies to career, leadership and organizational issues. As a CEO and business leader, you're deeply familiar with the core beliefs and values of your company's mission and how that squares with products, services and target markets. And you validate that mission with short- and long-range plans that focus on quarterly profits, revenues and competitveness, among other things.
No matter how and when you stepped into the role of CEO, current expectations for leaders make it less about the business lifecycle and more about ensuring a world-class firm's brand and legacy. Are you able to get your company to adapt as economic and market realities shift--and embrace change management activities seamlessly? And as a CEO, can you lead your firm with the versatility required to pursue mulitple strategies that ensure long-term success?
All of this speaks to branding on an enterprise level. In other words, the brand is about the company's unique promise of value.
But what about your own brand and its unique promise of value?
PERSONAL BRANDING EXAMPLES ~ CEOs
Think about Apple and the company brand. In full disclosure, I'm writing this post on my MacBook Pro with my iPhone by my side. Apple's product suite has a devoted fan base to be sure, and I certainly would attest to how uncomplicated and user-friendly it has made my professional and personal life. I don't just like the utility and the aesthetics--I also like the customer service. In other words, I'm drawn to the company brand.
The parallel story is about Apple's executive leadership brand. Although media discussions have lowered the volume on the debate about leadership styles of Apple's current CEO Tim Cook and founding CEO Steve Jobs, there is a case to be made about each CEO's personal brand and the impact it has had on the company brand. Here's an interesting article from Entrepreneur Magazine about their distinct management, leadership and personal characteristics. The article also highlights these differences in a spot-on Infographic.
To underscore how relevant personal brands are in business, politics and society, Chuck Todd--the new moderator of "Meet the Press"--suggested on cable news yesterday morning that the winning margins in the 2014 midterm elections may come down to a candidate's brand, pushing the usual distaste for dysfunction and ideological schisms off to the side. And, despite some former presidential advisors having low regard for the concept of personal branding, in politics and business, you do come out ahead when you understand your brand and communicate it to your demographic early enough so your competition is prevented from doing that for you. Or in this case--to you.
PERSONAL BRAND DEVELOPMENT
You can start to identify and embrace your personal leadership brand immediately. Your goal should be to create content that is honest, credible and authentic.
How To Start Your Story:
> Write a brief narrative and describe what makes you tick. Every leader has a style of thinking, philosophy or approach to accomplishing goals. How do you deal with people, motivate them and get them to carry out the mission? In other words, a leader leads only if there is someone to follow. Your answer can be based on the personal as well as the professional.
> Collect feedback from multiple networks. Instead of making a general request for a testimonial from the willing, direct your endorsers to write a paragraph that summarizes a war story to showcase your best work, knowledge and expertise. Obviously, these should be people who know you well and can deliver something that is concrete. Tell them to go easy on the adjectives and superlatives.
This is the beginning of identifying your personal brand, of course. Branding is a process, and requires more input, development and management, but at least you have a baseline idea.
I wrote a workbook geared only for CEOs, Board Directors and other senior executives to create and roll out branding campaigns that are the cornerstones of an overall career strategy. The workbook drives the process and helps me write career marketing material for clients, such as resume portfolios, speeches, articles, presentations and other pieces. The two bullets above are examples of a much more sophisticated process and structure.
Conducting a personal brand audit will give every CEO or C-level executive a fast start in breaking through to a crowded marketplace.