If you are a leader in a company today, there could be some questions you are asking yourself as well: How important is it to build your personal brand? How does it help and where can it cause hindrance?
First of all, the platforms where you can build your personal brand seem to be mushrooming quickly today. Right from networking platforms such as LinkedIn that allow people to post their thoughts and identify key thought leaders every year to other social media channels and even platforms such as Substack for writing and YouTube for videos.
Second, by building a personal brand on any or some of these platforms, the leader forms a more personalised connection with their audience. This helps in multiple ways. First, it can create a stronger hiring connection for those looking to work with the organisation concerned. It helps them understand not just where they could work but also who they might be working for and how they think.
Third, it could also help the leaders showcase thought leadership on their chosen area of expertise, which could help people both learn from and connect with. Finally, the personal brand of the leader could also have an effect on the company brand.
We have seen examples of powerful personal brands of leaders benefiting their companies.
As an added benefit, as the leader builds a trusted audience through their personal brand, it can evolve into other manifestations from books to podcasts and more.
However, not all is perfect in the world of leadership personal branding.
Authenticity is the key to long-term sustainable personal branding. And the leader has to be clear on what they really want to speak about and how they want to share their stories. We have seen lessons in both good and bad in this aspect.
Leaders who are able to authentically share their industry learnings, their personal journey and their inspirations are able to build a long-term personal brand.
On the other hand, leaders who want to comment on anything and everything that may or may not be directly related to the work they do, or does not even fall within their area of expertise, run the risk of not sounding authentic. It may even harm their personal and professional brands.
Social media is quick to notice and amplify things. And in a trickle-down effect, it can also impact the company’s brand as well.
Leaders who do want to build their personal brands should start by assessing a clear content, channel and format strategy and then building consistency and habits around that rather than looking for quick virality.
On the other side of this argument on building personal brands is the lesson on leadership from the seminal book “Good to Great”, which speaks about “Level 5” leadership as one of the enduring forms of leadership — where the leader is a mentor and a motivator and keeps the team and the company in the foreground while not indulging in personal visibility.
In the case of Level 5 leadership, it is the company and the values and products that we will remember more rather than individual leaders.
It’s a choice for leaders to weigh in with their views. But in today’s world, where job tenures are shorter and work lives are longer, personal branding, if done well, and authentically, can become a long-term asset for leaders.
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