Q: What words best describe Adrian Parker?
In its simplest form, your personal brand is the answer to this all-important question: what do people think about me?
Or, stated a more complex way, what equity does my reputation have in the minds of those who matter?
For most of us, our personal branding efforts consists primarily of doing a good job, working hard and treating people with respect. After all, this is what leads to promotions and positive job evaluations, right? Maybe, but why leave something so important as your reputation to chance? Why not invests a little time to discover how your peers see you now, before you need anything.
We recently did just that at our office and I’d like to share how truly easy and eye-opening it can be. In fact, the word cloud above is my personal brand at Intuit (so far, wait till they really get to know me). Follow these really simple steps to get an understanding of what your peers think about you and start managing your proactively personal brand.
- Make a list of people you work with. They should be familiar enough with your work style and personality so that their feedback is relevant. Also try to mix it up between direct reports, your supervisors, cross-functional peers and even people you assume may not have the most positive opinion of you. The goal is get a balanced point-of-view from a good sample audience. Try to list between 8 – 12 people.
- Send this list to someone on your team to serve as your “survey administrator.” This person will send a quick email to everyone on your list (blind carbon copies or BCCs are OK) asking a very simple question: What 3 – 5 words best describe your feelings and thoughts when you think about [your name]? What words best characterize the impression he/she has in your organization?In this email, ensure your survey administrator promises confidentiality while encouraging frank, direct comments.
- Collect all of the words and create a word cloud that reflects the feedback. Have your administrator dump all of the words (duplicates included) into a word cloud generator so you can marvel at your brand blueprint. Wordle.comis a free and easy word cloud generator that I used when doing this exercise. After generating the cloud, your administrator simply sends you the finished product – read ’em and weep.
I was surprised by a few of the descriptors on my list (Acquiescent? My wife wishes…) and also pleased that there were positive attributes to be found. I’m so glad someone thinks I’m smooth and happy. Give it a shot and see what brand positioning you really have. Asking for feedback is a step in the right direction.
Just read an interesting interview with Avatar writer/director/producer James Cameron on leadership, innovation & passion. I’m often intrigued by individuals who achieve monumental success, not necessarily for what they did, but for how they did it. Here are 4 interesting tidbits I took away from the brief article:
To push teams to greater levels of achievement he had to adapt his leadership style from dictator to a respectful source of empowerment.
An environment of fun, authorship and ownership gives people permission to make mistakes but also makes them less likely to do so.
Perseverance and patience pay off. From concept to screen took 15 years for Avatar.
The biggest risk is not to be bold.
P.S.> Yes, more Avatar is on the way. 2 more films… can’t wait!
Source: Leadership Excellence Winter 2011 courtesy of SMU Cox School of Business