In the current VUCA world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, professionals face increasingly complex challenges on a daily basis. This world requires us to have more than just our headlights on and companies need authentic leaders with clear goals to guide their teams through these uncertain but motivating times of change by leading by example.
Personal branding is a strategy of development and personal positioning which seems well suited to this VUCA reality. By going further and aligning it with the company’s corporate brand strategy, it is capable of generating a potential win-win situation.
Top companies invest a wealth of resources in preparing and giving support to their leaders as they are aware that one of the keys to success lies in increasing the value of their people. Companies achieve this personal and professional development by empowering their leaders, guiding them in the process of self-awareness, helping them to discover their value proposition, helping them to set and share new challenges and grow by connecting their passion to the projects they are developing. Ultimately, big companies are investing in the personal branding of their leaders.
Building your personal brand
“Your personal brand is your talent wholeheartedly combined with the passion of someone who has taken charge of their own life”. My definition of personal branding has remained unchanged for some time now. This is because every time I meet someone who showcases their talent and uses their personal branding strategy to achieve their goals, my idea of personal branding is reaffirmed.
In my opinion, the four pillars of personal branding are:
- Talent: Undoubtedly we need to develop our own personal brand around what we know how to do best. The key is discovering our competitive advantage and shining a light on it. It is important to find out our strengths, stay focused on them and build something around them.
- “The said and done”: Personal branding comes partly from what is “done”: what we do every day, how we do it and how others perceive what we do. A good personal brand truly reflects how people are so that others will never be disappointed. The “said” part is important too because we should not only limit ourselves to doing things right but we should also be able to explain what we do in the right offline and online contexts.
- Passion: You cannot visualise a path to excellence if you are not passionate about what you do.
- Taking charge of your life: Developing an authentic personal brand is a challenge for optimistic people who believe in themselves and who want to drive their lives forward. They know how to lead the way regardless of the circumstances they face.
The qualities of a good leader
I have my own theory about this: I think that one day they started taking charge of their own lives and now they lead people and projects by sharing their dream and goals with others. Leaders tend to share three common attributes:
- They are very self-aware: They have gone through a process of self-awareness which has left them with very clear ideas about themselves, their way of “being and doing” and their set of values.
- They are outward looking: They know what they contribute to their families, professional projects and society.
- They are constant learners: This helps them to stay alert, adapt to their environment and to keep growing so as to prevent the obsolescence of their skills. This is where the On skills are important: my optimism about digital skills has been growing over the years and it is now clear that the digital era has given us the chance to take charge of our professional development. To put it to our competitive advantage we need to learn how to use all the new channels and tools on offer and embrace the new work culture that comes with them.
As I see it, the key to being a leader is being someone who is very clear about their differential value proposition. To this we could also add a set of skills which allows them to create value and a series of personal attributes. Above all, however, I believe leaders have a firm desire to lead consciously and by example.
About the author
Professor Alicia Linares teaches on EADA’s Executive Branding programme, and works as a personal brander and digital pedagogue.