Innovation in Leadership: 5 Ways To Boost Creativity and Drive Team Growth

In today’s fast-paced and competitive business environment, innovation in leadership has become a critical factor for success. Companies that prioritize creativity and innovation are more likely to outperform their peers, stay ahead of the curve and continue to grow. A leader’s responsibility is to foster an environment that encourages and supports innovation.

Still, it’s easy to slip into old habits and do things “the way they’ve always been done.” With that in mind, here are five tips to boost your creativity and innovation in leadership that will propel your team to new heights.

Embrace Diversity and Inclusion

One of the keys to fostering a culture of innovation is to embrace your team’s inherent diversity and make sure that everybody feels included. When you bring together people with different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, you can create an entirely new environment ripe with new ideas and brimming with solutions to old problems.

So, encourage your team to share their opinions, experiences, perspectives and the special something that makes them, them. I guarantee you that this will ensure an environment where everybody on your team feels valued and heard.

Additionally, keep this diversity in backgrounds and perspectives in mind when making hiring decisions. The best candidate for a position doesn’t have to be the person who fits the mold of their predecessor — hiring someone with the skills and drive to succeed in the role while also bringing in a new way of approaching challenges has the potential to provide both a short- and long-term benefit to your team and organization.

Encourage Risk-Taking

Innovation often goes hand in hand with risk — both inherent and acquired. Leaders who encourage their team to take calculated risks are more likely to foster a culture of innovation within their team. But it isn’t ever as easy as it sounds.

Before your team feels comfortable taking calculated risks, they have to be confident that they are a part of an environment where it is okay to fail — where all members of the team are encouraged to experiment and try new things without fear of reprimand.

Proactively seek out feedback and new ideas from your team, demonstrating a willingness to experiment with new approaches even if they aren’t your own. Soliciting and encouraging these ideas from your team sends the message that it’s OK (and encouraged) to think outside of the box — just be sure to give credit where it’s due if an idea yields great results.

When you, as a leader, show that you’re willing to take that risk and embrace change, it sets the standard — and you serve as the example of the positive culture you are trying to promote.

Promote Continuous Learning

Innovation requires a constant flow of new ideas, and you can’t achieve that without a constant flow of education. As an innovative leader, it is up to you to encourage your team to pursue new skills and knowledge; provide them with the opportunities that they need to learn and to grow. Every conversation, every task, every victory — even every failure — is an opportunity to learn, and an innovative leader makes sure that their team knows this.

I’ve used this approach in my career, to be a sponge and seek out opportunities to soak up as much knowledge and information as possible. Whether through formal training or conversations with others, you never know where the next great idea is going to come from. Your best chance of finding it is to cast a broad net — and encouraging your employees to do the same.

Creating a culture where continuous learning is valued and encouraged will also lend itself to greater opportunities across the board. As you hear your employees start to discuss workshops, training programs and conferences more often, take note. As budget allows or workflow, provide these opportunities to your team members. This type of investment will have a multifaceted payoff: increasing your team’s productivity, morale and creativity, as well as providing professional development and advancement opportunities to employees.

Encourage Collaboration

Collaboration is another critical component in creative leadership solutions.

Through collaboration, your team members can share knowledge, exchange solutions and build on each other’s ideas. Together, your team can leverage their collective strengths to achieve common goals that would otherwise be impossible.

When employees are encouraged to share ideas and build on their colleagues’ work, they can generate new and creative solutions to problems. This collaboration can lead to breakthroughs in product development, process improvement, and other business areas. According to research from Nielsen, ideas developed by a team of three or more people have 156% greater appeal with consumers than those generated by teams where just one or two people have played a hands-on role.

The role of a leader is vital in cultivating a workplace environment that encourages collaboration and open communication. Business leaders must provide opportunities for team members to meet and work together. Team-building activities, project-based work assignments and regular team meetings can spur increased collaboration and communication. Additionally, recognizing and rewarding cooperation can further motivate employees to work together. Rewarding these positive behaviors reinforces their importance across your organization.

Lead by Example

I’ve touched on this already, but as a leader it’s essential for you to lead by example. A leader is more than just a manager. If you want your team to embrace innovation, you need to be willing to take the reins and demonstrate your commitment to your ideals.

This means you have to practice what you preach — take the calculated risks, embrace change, keep on learning and collaborating with your team. When you lead by example, you set a positive tone for the rest of your team — and where you go, they’ll begin to follow. In other words, lead, don’t manage.

The Impact of Fostering Creativity and Innovation in Leadership

Innovation in leadership is essential for boosting your team’s growth and success. As a leader, you’re responsible for many aspects of your business, and innovation is a driving factor behind growth for many organizations.

Businesses change, but one thing is constant — the need for new ideas and creative solutions. Don’t get stuck by using yesterday’s business strategies for today’s challenges. Use your position as a leader to encourage innovation among your team and provide support and guidance for the new ideas they bring to the table.

By embracing the five tips above, you can create a culture of innovation that drives your team — and organization — forward. With creative leadership solutions, you can unleash the full potential of your team and together rise to newer, higher heights.

Interested in learning more about encouraging creative problem-solving at your organization? Reach out today and let’s discuss how I can help you better implement innovation in leadership

The Importance of Core Values in the Workplace

In today’s fast-paced business world, the importance of core values in the workplace can’t be overstated. Establishing a clear set of values for your organization is more critical than ever — I’ve even written before about why core values matter for my own company. Whether you’ve got two employees or 2,000, a defined purpose helps unite your employees, attract customers and develop expectations for both. Additionally, recent research indicates that a clear purpose can improve a company’s financial performance.

One study found that organizations embracing a multi-stakeholder approach performed better than the S&P 500 by a factor of eight over a decade. Similarly, George Serafeim and his co-authors found that firms whose middle-manager ranks emphasized purpose “have systematically higher accounting and stock market performance.” So, no matter your size or industry, there’s a lot of evidence supporting the importance of core values in the workplace for any business.

What Are Core Values?

Core values are the fundamental beliefs that guide an organization’s actions and decisions. These beliefs drive a business and its employees and inform how both operate. These business core values help direct every component of an organization toward a common set of goals and inform how each component interacts with the others — and with your customers.

Essentially, these values function as your company’s reason for existing; they help define your organization’s purpose. Here are some common examples of core values in the workplace.

The Importance of Core Values in the Workplace

One benefit of implementing core values in the workplace is that they can help to build trust and credibility with customers, partners, employees and stakeholders. A business that consistently acts according to a set of publicly known values can demonstrate a high level of integrity and reliability, subsequently inspiring confidence and loyalty. In contrast, a company with weak or undefined values may struggle to build trust and may be viewed as unreliable or untrustworthy by customers or stakeholders.

Defined core values also create a positive and engaging work environment. A global study of executives found over 80% believe a strong sense of purpose drives employee satisfaction. Moreover, Harvard Business Review (HBR) research found more than 9 out of 10 employees are willing to take a pay cut for more meaningful work.

When employees understand and align with the organization’s core values, they’re more likely to feel a purpose at work. Demonstrating values-based leadership is vital to your staff feeling connected to their work and can help increase engagement and productivity and decrease turnover. Other research from HBR showed companies with a purpose do better in the market by 5%–7%, grow faster and have greater profitability.

How To Develop Core Values for a Company

There are tangible benefits to having core values in the workplace. Still, knowing you want to establish these values and implementing them are different. Here’s how you can develop core values for your organization.

1. Seek Inspiration and Input from Others

The first step when developing your company’s core values is to seek inspiration from other organizations you admire. Even if their values don’t align with your own, they may get you thinking about your core values differently.

Use your founders or executive team to help you create and enact these values in leadership and operations scenarios. These team members may already have an idea or vision for your company’s values. Plus, as you work together to solve problems and/or build your business, you may develop the values you desire.

2. Ask for Feedback

Creating core values should be a collaborative process. In addition to the company’s founders or executive team, solicit feedback from the rest of your organization. Through surveys or meetings, you can ask your entire staff what they think about the values you’ve developed. As you seek this feedback, ensure you’re asking tough questions and capturing answers in as much detail as possible.

Additionally, soliciting as much feedback as possible will help you better understand your current culture and what your employees like and dislike most about it. Once you’ve gathered this data, compare any insights and look for patterns. Are there any clear ideas you can add to or update with your values? This process won’t reflect every individual’s feelings, but it will be more representative than if you only ask for input from your executive team.

3. Align Values and Brand

As you develop your core values, make sure they reflect your company’s brand and what makes you unique. These values should exemplify what separates you from your competitors and demonstrate how they affect everything your business does. Similarly, your core values need to embody your organization’s culture and the spirit of your mission.

4. Act and Implement

Once you’ve thought through your core values, sought feedback and shared your ideas with your employees, put your values in writing. Describe, in detail, what these values mean for your business. Anyone reading a description of your core values should understand how they fit into your company’s culture and how employees can use them to guide their work. Once the values are in writing, you must then implement them.

5. Review and Evolve

Although your core values should be foundational to your organization, they may need to evolve, just as the world around you is evolving. Businesses expand and retract — they shift processes and priorities to reflect the world around them. So, you must periodically evaluate your core values to ensure they match your organization’s culture and mission.

If you do find your organizational core values in need of updating, add or remove values to maintain their alignment with your present culture. With any changes, make sure you’re soliciting another round of feedback. This feedback is as vital as it is when first developing your values, as they should consistently match the core of your business.

Implementing Core Values in the Workplace

Once you’ve developed your business core values, you must implement them in the workplace. Without the consistent application of these values, they will be nothing more than a blurb on your website or a poster on the wall. You should derive your core values with input from the entire organization. But typically, these values are best implemented from the top down.

Any business leader must communicate and model their company’s values. Such communication should include setting expectations for behavior and decision-making and consistently reinforcing these values through your words and actions. Additionally, if you used the above process to develop your core values, you should have heavily involved your employees. This involvement can help build buy-in and ownership of your company’s core values.

Integrating these values with all aspects of your business, including policies, practices and systems, is essential. This integration will help align your company culture and core values, ensuring your business operations are consistent with your values and any deviations are addressed and corrected quickly.

For example, one of Spotify’s values is collaboration, which it demonstrates through partnerships with musicians from all over the world across various genres of music. These collaborations reinforce Spotify’s commitment to this value to employees, partners and stakeholders.

Likewise, setting organizational goals that align with your core values is crucial. Such an alignment can help ensure your business works toward a common purpose consistent with your established values. Plus, involving your staff in the goal-setting process will assist employees in buying into and implementing these values consistently throughout your organization.

Core Values in Business

The importance of core values in the workplace is impossible to overstate. They’re a critical element of almost any successful organization and are foundational for a company’s culture. Core values help build trust and credibility among customers, partners and stakeholders.

By clearly communicating and modeling core values, aligning your company’s culture with the values, and setting goals that align with these values, business leaders can ensure their organization is constantly working toward a common purpose and acting in a way that is always consistent with its values. Plus, your company can accomplish greater productivity and profitability by establishing core values and a definite purpose.

Are you still curious about the impact a set of well-developed — and adhered-to — core values can have on your organization? Check out my book, Lead, Don’t Manage, or book me to speak at your next event!

7 Steps to Conquer Personal Branding 3.0

Since Tom Peters wrote his seminal article “The Brand Called YOU” for the Fast Company magazine in August 1997, personal branding has become crucial for every professional. Like computer skills, it’s vital you at least understand the basics of personal branding to maximize your career in today’s workplace.

Still, just as the world continues to change and evolve, so too does personal branding. With the dawn of widespread social media and an always-on internet presence in the late 2000s, personal branding 2.0 came on the scene. This second era of personal branding ran through — and arguably hit its peak during — the COVID-19 pandemic, with more people than ever working remotely. Mastering online first impressions and utilizing video and social media technology became essential.

Now, with more organizations and individuals returning to the office, a new period of personal branding has begun. Personal branding 3.0 means mastering  the elements of both the first and second generation of personal branding while adopting new skills to ensure success in a hybrid and tech-dominant workplace.

This new iteration of personal branding is necessary as, per McKinsey, 90% of organizations will adopt a hybrid work model that combines in-person and remote work. The hybrid workplace, at least for the foreseeable future, is here to stay. That said, here’s how you can ensure you’re getting the most from your personal branding 3.0 efforts.

  1. With Change Comes Opportunity
  2. Build Something by Yourself
  3. Master Communication (In All Forms)
  4. Engage (No Matter the Medium)
  5. Be a Lifelong Learner
  6. Be Authentic (and Vulnerable)
  7. Humans (& Relationships) Still Matter

1. With Change Comes Opportunity

The past several years have been full of unprecedented tumult. From social upheaval to a global pandemic, the world seems to change quicker and more often than ever before. Rather than fearing this change, you should embrace it — every necessary change represents an opportunity.

Look at these changes as opportunities to learn new skills, tools or roles, and you’ll find this mindset will bolster your personal brand. In addition to gaining these new skills, you’ll demonstrate your flexibility and willingness to learn new things and improve yourself, both vital attributes of your personal brand.

2. Build Something by Yourself

Build something yourself, no matter what business you’re creating or the industry you’re in. It doesn’t matter if it’s a social media presence, a website or a physical product. This content illustrates your skills, builds your authority and allows you to connect with others.

Additionally, building content yourself showcases your abilities and develops trust with your audience. With today’s technology, creating and sharing this content has never been easier. Don’t wait for the perfect time; start creating now.

3. Master Communication (In All Forms)

Being an efficient and effective communicator is vital to the success of any individual or business. In the new era of personal branding, you must be able to communicate effectively, both in-person and virtually. If you can’t communicate effectively, regardless of the medium, you will struggle in building your personal brand.

After all, branding is about developing and maintaining a reputation. Every time you interact with other people, view it as an opportunity to cultivate or grow your personal brand. Honing effective communication skills will help ensure you’re taking advantage of every interpersonal interaction, growing your brand along the way.

4. Engage (No Matter the Medium)

This step goes hand in hand with the previous. An essential piece of effective communication is to engage your audience. No matter how you’re communicating, it’s vital you’re an engaging presence. But if you’re an introvert, don’t worry — this doesn’t mean you have to be the life of every meeting or networking event.

Rather, whether you’re speaking to an entire room or one person, ensure you’re actively listening, asking questions and staying present. In an age where screens are everywhere and there are constant distractions, staying engaged and present is a particularly special skill.

5. Be a Lifelong Learner

In a technology-forward world, where changes happen faster than ever, you’ve got to stay flexible. Part of this flexibility is continuing to learn new skills. Being a lifelong learner and continually seeking out new skills and development opportunities helps you establish the foundation of your personal brand.

Part of your learning, which will assist your personal brand building, is always asking questions and seeking feedback whenever possible. Honest feedback can help you understand what you’re doing well, as well as any areas where you can improve. By staying on the lookout for feedback and new opportunities, you can be proactive with your skill-building and, subsequently, brand-building.

6. Be Authentic (and Vulnerable)

Another piece of connecting with others and engaging your audience is always being authentic. Whether working from home or in a crowded office, every interaction with someone is a chance to demonstrate who you are and what’s important to you. One way to establish your authenticity is to seek opportunities for vulnerability.

As defined by Dr. Brené Brown, vulnerability is taking action when there is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” According to Brown, vulnerability in the workplace can improve engagement and productivity. On a personal level, being authentic and vulnerable allows you to show who you truly are and permits others to show their authentic selves, fostering stronger connections.

7. Humans (& Relationships) Still Matter

Technology has undoubtedly helped us connect for both personal and business reasons. These technologies have facilitated such connections across time and space, making in-person communication seem like a relic.

Still, businesses — and personal branding — are ultimately all about people. Focusing on the human side of your business, regardless of your industry, will help you stick out in a technology-forward world. Building relationships in the workplace will boost your personal brand and help your business in general.

Take it from the man who coined personal branding, Tom Peters. Personal branding 3.0, like its other iterations, is still all about “Relationships. Relationships. Relationships.”

You can build a personal brand that will resonate in our new hybrid-work world by leveraging these steps. The days of putting your head down, working and waiting for someone to notice are over. To maximize your career, developing your personal brand in today’s workplace is vital.

If you want to learn more about how the intersection of personal branding and leadership can help you keep your career moving forward, get a copy of my book, Lead, Don’t Manage — or book me to speak at your next event!

5 Leadership Strategies I Learned From Working on Cars

My primary hobby is working on older cars, so when I get free time to myself, I often spend it sourcing parts and using them to fix my vehicles. Like many hobbies, this one has taught me a lot about life and the workplace. It may seem strange, but working on my ’82 Toyota Land Cruiser or ’64 Pontiac GTO has helped me better understand some effective leadership strategies for any industry.

Here are the top 5 leadership strategies I’ve learned from a lot of nights and weekends spent in the garage.

  1. Embrace New Technology and Tools
  2. Invest for Success
  3. Monitor Your Inputs
  4. Recognize That Everyone Has Different Needs
  5. Don’t Be so Quick To Discard

Leadership Strategy 1: Embrace New Technology and Tools

When you think of installing new technology in older cars, your first thought will probably be about equipment like an in-dash touchscreen, top-of-the-line sound system or even self-driving capabilities. But the latest automobile technology extends beyond these in-cabin features. Safety technology like automatic high beams, rearview cameras, lane-keeping systems and blind-spot monitors can help keep you — and everyone around you — safe.

Similarly, you can greatly improve your employees’ work lives by providing them with the latest tools and technology they need to do their best work. From customer relationship management and point-of-sale systems to even the computers they use, your approach to workplace technology can either make your staff’s work easier and more streamlined or impede their ability to meet the goals you set for them.

For example, look back to the early days of the pandemic. Organizations that embraced technology and looked for ways to leverage available tools to keep their employees functioning at a high level were able to weather the initial disruption of stay-at-home orders.

After that initial period, many leaders faced a choice — remove some of those tools and go back to the former way of working, or continue embracing the resources and flexibility offered by technology for both employee and organizational benefit. Those who were willing to embrace technology likely saw happier employees and a competitive advantage in recruiting.

Technology can also provide rail guards for employees, helping foster a safer and happier workplace. Human resource management systems can allow employees to share concerns and feedback efficiently and confidentially. When employees feel safe in providing honest, constructive criticism — and then can see it addressed quickly — both they and the organization benefit.

Leadership Strategy 2: Invest for Success

When you’re restoring a car, you get out what you put in. Like almost any activity, the more you invest (time, money or both) the better the result. If you rebuild a classic car but only use the cheapest parts, it’s unlikely to last. As a business leader, the same is true for your employees — to get the most out of them, you need to invest in them.

That investment in your staff needs to start from day one. A quality employee onboarding process is one example of how investing in your employees from the start can drastically affect outcomes for them and your business at large. BambooHR found employees who felt they received effective onboarding are 18 times more likely to feel committed to their organization than employees who felt their onboarding process was ineffective.

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 5 of my book, “Lead, Don’t Manage,” where I discuss the importance of an effective onboarding process.

“Your goal, as a manager, is to set your new employees up for success from day one. You can do this via a comprehensive company training and assimilation plan.

Employee assimilation is often known as onboarding and is one of the best methods of improving employee productivity, building employee loyalty and engagement, and helping your new employees become successful early on. Assimilation for new employees is all about communication between employer and employee. There should be a natural flow of communication, including who does what, company policies and procedures, manuals, and forms — information for new employees as well as answers to all their questions — throughout the assimilation process.”

Your company can significantly increase employee engagement and impact any employee retention strategies through an improved onboarding process. This process improves your business in two ways. First, per Workest, highly engaged employees had 147% higher earnings per share than their competition. Second, according to Glassdoor, a quality onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82%. So not only will your company spend less per hire, these employees will be more productive.

Leadership Strategy 3: Monitor Your Inputs

Anyone who owns a luxury or high-end sports car understands they need to fill it up with premium fuel rather than regular gas. If you don’t, you’ll increase wear on the engine and negatively affect its fuel efficiency and overall performance.

Maybe more relatable is the idea that what you put into your body (or mind) has a direct impact on your performance. Poor choices will negatively impact your physical and mental health, whether it’s too much fast food, excessive alcohol consumption, inadequate sleep or more.

While you aren’t responsible for what your employees eat and drink, you can affect what’s on their minds. To start, you can discover and acknowledge the reality of where your people are. By asking questions and listening to their answers, you can begin to understand your employees’ most pressing issues. Once you know where their minds are, you can help them address any challenges they might be facing.

For example, if your employees are struggling with meeting fatigue, review all regular meetings to ensure they’re helping your staff. If your company’s workers feel burned out, you can implement mandatory time off or another similar benefit to protect these staff members.

Leadership Strategy 4: Recognize That Everyone Has Different Needs

Every car is unique, even if it’s one of tens of thousands in a given year/model lineup. As you spend time with a specific car, you get to know its little quirks and adapt accordingly. This one has a slight left-side drift, that one has a minor fluid leak and needs to be topped off occasionally, and another makes a quiet whistling sound through the passenger window when it gets up over 65.

Each of your employees is unique, too. Every person has their own preference for the way they are managed, and this makes it imperative that business leaders handle their staff as individuals rather than as a collective group.

Again, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 9 of “Lead, Don’t Manage.”

“‘One size fits all’ doesn’t always work when it comes to workplace motivation.

As a company leader, you must take the time to know what’s important for each employee; as an example, for one employee, getting to leave early for a job well done is a motivator, while for another, a genuine ‘Your contribution was essential for our success,’ is the best motivator around.”

Developing your emotional intelligence (skills like self-awareness, empathy and motivation) will assist you in recognizing and responding to your employees’ needs while retaining the context of their place in your organization as a whole.

Cultivating these skills also delivers tangible results. According to research from Stanford University, management can account for approximately one-fifth of variation in productivity between businesses. By honing your soft skills, you can substantially improve performance for both your individual employees and your company overall.

Leadership Strategy 5: Don’t Be so Quick To Discard

The final leadership strategy I’ve learned from working on cars is probably the most important. Why do people move on from a car when they do? I’ve found that most vehicles wind up in a junkyard because of normal wear and tear or neglect, not a major accident.

How are you helping your employees manage the miles they’ve put on over the years? It’s reasonable that your staff may feel burned out, especially considering the circumstances of the past few years (a global pandemic, economic uncertainty and large-scale global unrest). But it’s your responsibility as a leader to watch for employee burnout signs and help them pop their hoods and ensure everything is running smoothly.

Similarly, don’t just discard your employees with more miles behind them. Age discrimination is illegal, but it’s also bad business. Like other forms of diversity, age diversity can help you grow your customer base and even improve productivity. Per Forbes, the productivity of both older and younger employees is higher in companies with mixed-age work teams.


You should not treat your employees like cars — they’re not machines to get you from point A to point B. Still, these five tips I’ve learned from working on cars can help any leader improve their effectiveness.

The next time an employee leaves your organization, think about whether these five lessons could have changed the outcome. Even better, take the time to implement these five leadership strategies and you can prevent that employee from wanting to quit in the first place.

Need more help in becoming a better leader? Get a copy of my book, Lead, Don’t Manage, or book me to speak at your next event!

Why Is Personal Branding Important?

When you hear a major brand name — Facebook, Starbucks, Amazon — you have an immediate response, whether it’s good or bad. If you’ve ever heard someone ask “Why is personal branding important?” the answer is that your name, as your brand, creates a similar response in others.

So what is a personal brand? There’s a famous Jeff Bezos quote: “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

Having a personal brand isn’t a choice. Everyone has one, whether they recognize it or not.

Here’s one of my favorite analogies for a personal brand. Think about going trick-or-treating as a kid. As you walked through your neighborhood, you likely had in mind which houses were the most important to stop at.

Each year, the people living in that house by the corner always gave out boxes of raisins. Not even Raisinets! But the owners of that other house, the one just past the streetlamp, always kept a big basket full of king-size candy bars. And they let you take 2!

Your interactions with those houses stuck with you. You remembered each year which houses gave out the best candy, which had the best brand.

So, do you know what your brand is? And just as importantly, is it positive or negative?

Discovering Your Personal Brand

If you don’t know what your personal brand is, how can you find out?


That might make you uncomfortable, but it’s the simplest and best way to learn.

Find a few people you trust to be honest with you and whose opinions you value. Maybe this is a mentor, a peer, a direct report, a close friend or even your spouse. There are a lot of questions you could ask; here are a few examples.

Asking others is just the first step. You also need to do some soul-searching and answer those questions (and more) for yourself. If this is your first time thinking through your personal brand, make this the time that you define your goals and start building a personal brand you can be proud of. What do you want your brand to be? How do you want your personal brand to help you achieve your goals?

Once this step is done, it’s time to ask yourself one more question: “Do I like my personal brand?”

Changing Your Personal Brand

What can you do if you’ve asked for input and done some self-evaluation and found that your brand isn’t what you want it to be — or, worse, people have a negative perception of your brand?

You can change what you’re known for.

Your brand has been built up over a period of time, with each interaction someone has with you impacting their perception of your brand. Identify what you have done or said that has built your brand in a way other than you want it to be seen.

If the feedback you received indicates that you’re unreliable, why is that? Have you missed deadlines, appointments or important events? Do you regularly back out of commitments?

Did you hear that you aren’t seen as compassionate? Is that because you’re overly critical, hard on others when they don’t meet your standards? Do you ignore what’s happening in people’s lives and fail to extend grace when it’s needed?

Changing what you’re known for isn’t easy, but it can be done. Whatever it is you want to change, create a personal branding strategy you can follow to make sure the way your individual branding is experienced aligns with your goals.

Using Your Brand for Personal Marketing

One of the benefits of branding yourself is that you’re taking control of your narrative. A company with good brand management would never let other people decide what it should be known for. Organizations are protective of their branding, doing what they can to ensure their target audience maintains a positive association with their brand.

You can — and should — treat your brand the same way, for the same reason.

Let’s come back to our original question: “Why is personal branding important?” The way you manage your personal brand identity will have an impact on your life, both personal and professional. What goals do you want to achieve? Do you want to build up great relationships? Do you want to pursue career advancement? Your personal brand affects your ability to meet your goals.

Marketing yourself isn’t just about tooting your own horn. You don’t have to have a personal website (unless it helps achieve your overall goals) — you just need to make sure you’re consistently putting your best self forward. And that consistency is key.

Let’s say you want to leverage your personal brand to gain entry to a new role and move up the ladder. With that goal in mind, reflect on how your brand can help you achieve it. Here are a few examples.

  1. Identify what makes you unique. Why do you want to be in a particular line of work? What do you bring to the table that someone else wouldn’t offer?
  2. Establish yourself as a go-to resource. Share ideas and insights. Offer to help with projects and tasks that aren’t your responsibility. If you’re getting your work done and also showing that you’re an invaluable asset for others to rely on, your name will come up more whenever there’s a need.
  3. Ask questions and keep learning. Don’t assume that you’ve ever “arrived” — people will see your drive for continuous learning and personal development and recognize that you’re not someone who wants to coast by.
  4. Show up every day. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take time off work, but when you’re on, be present and prepared. Demonstrate integrity by doing what you say you will, even when it’s hard.
  5. Take responsibility for yourself and be an encouragement to others. If you’re quick to accept praise and slow to give it — or to help — people will see that very quickly and shy away from you.

If you want to know if your efforts to build your personal brand are working, go back to my earlier advice and ask. Be clear about what steps you are taking and what your desired outcome is. The only way to find out if your strategy is changing the impression people have of you is to be direct — which serves the double purpose of learning how successful your efforts are as well as communicating to others that you are proactively taking steps to change.

Don’t take it personally if the change you believe you’ve already made doesn’t come through in the feedback you receive. If you get criticism, accept it humbly and then incorporate any valid critiques in your action plan.

So again, why is personal branding important?

Because if your desired brand attributes are the types of things you are known for, before long you’ll catch the eye of decision-makers around you who will want to invest in you. People talk, and your personal brand will precede you, both in your current role and even in your larger network.

Looking for more information on building your personal brand? Check out chapter 7 of my book, Lead, Don’t Manage, or book me to speak at your next event!

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