How Leaders Earn
Brand-Loyalty for Life: The Top Behaviors that can Damage
By Brenda Bence
All you have to do is look around you to know that brands are
powerful. In fact, most people are so loyal to certain brands that
they stick with them for life. If brand-name products can evoke that
kind of loyalty, why can’t people? Well, they can!
The truth is that we all have a personal brand whether we
like it or not. Simply by being ourselves in the work place, others
perceive, think, and feel about us in a certain way. The question is
whether we have created the personal brand we want.
This is especially important for those who hold leadership
positions. If you lead others,
the way they
perceive, think, and feel about you as a leader, in relation to
other leaders, can make or break your short-term and long-term
success. These “others” might consist of your subordinates,
colleagues, superiors, or even entire divisions or corporations.
personal brand impacts your image, your reputation, your
relationships, and your performance. As a result, it will also
impact your overall career and your finances. So, unless you create
your desired leadership personal brand consciously, negative
perceptions can undermine your best efforts. There are many mistakes
that leaders commonly make which can damage their personal brands.
Let’s take a look at five of the most potentially damaging:
taking risks or accepting tough challenges.
When you reach a leadership position in any organization, it can be
much too easy to rest on your laurels. If you have a lot of
experience, you might become inclined to stick with what you know
has worked in the past rather than try something new. This keeps you
in a static place, however, without the opportunity for you – or the
company - to grow. We all need challenges. As a leader, it’s your
job to find them and lead your team through them.
2) Not speaking up
when you disagree with top management. Even leaders have a difficult time speaking up to superiors.
It’s natural to worry about the reactions of top management when you
disagree with their decisions, but it also hurts your leadership
personal brand to hold back and keep your opinions to yourself. Most
of the time, if you’re diplomatic about it, your input will be
appreciated – even if management’s decision stays the same. Most
leaders are expected to offer ideas about how to solve problems or
improve operations. You will be respected for making your views
about being “liked,” not respected.
A good leader is both liked and respected. It’s a difficult
balance, but it’s an important one. If you worry too much about
being liked, you probably aren’t making enough tough decisions to
lead others effectively. If, on
the other hand, you worry too much about being respected and don’t
care about being liked, chances are you won’t be able to garner the
support you need from your team to succeed. They may even begin to
feel victimized by your leadership style, making it hard to retain
employees. The best leadership personal brand is one that straddles
these two poles in – being liked and being respected – in as
balanced a way as possible.
feedback, both giving and receiving.
A lot of leaders come to a place where they stop moving up the
ladder either because they aren’t good at coaching others or they’ve
stopped being coachable themselves. The best leaders are both good
at coaching their teams and also at accepting regular feedback, no
matter how high up in the organization they are. Keeping an open
mind and recognizing there is always room to improve yourself is
key, and giving your team feedback is the best way to make sure your
people – and the company – are growing, too. So, strengthen your
leadership personal brand by getting comfortable with both giving
and receiving feedback, and everybody wins.
destructive language on the job.
Too many leaders fail to pay attention to the way they speak.
Destructive language – even if it’s intended as ‘funny’ - has an
impact on everyone, including yourself. It’s a bit of an epidemic in
modern society to speak negatively and to complain, but it presents
a very poor personal brand, particular for leaders. It can lower
morale in the work environment and undermine the success of your
team. If you don’t believe in yourself or your people, how can they
believe in themselves? If they are derided for past failures, they
may become so afraid of making mistakes that they stop moving
forward at all. So, begin to notice how you speak, and if talking
negatively is a habit you’ve developed, start to break it. Figure
out how to turn negatives into positives – it will make a world of
Leaders are in a position to inspire and motivate others, and
one of the best ways you can become a truly extraordinary leader is
to create a successful leadership personal brand.
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