Brand You — Be Honest with Yourself
Understanding the way people perceive you is critical before you can start working on enhancing your personal brand.
Even the best-known persons need someone who can guide and mentor them as they build their own personal brand.
It is well acknowledged that, Zuckerberg needed Jobs, Gates needed Buffet and Mandela needed Gandhi. Each relationship had a strong reason to exist and the younger person saw a mentor or a guide in the other.
Think of the people who have helped you face your own mirror and helped you along with your career. The mirror that the other person provides makes you become honest with yourself.
Unless you are brutally honest with yourself, you will not be able to get the right response to your own perception. If you perceive yourself as mediocre, use this as your starting point to build your brand.
For you, there is only way.
On the other hand, if you are doing exceptionally well and are well recognised, your challenge will be to stay where you are and take steps to try to keep moving forward from the exalted position you already occupy.
It is easy to get to the top of the pack. It is easy to get to the top. The challenge is to stay there.
Some steps you can take to understand your perceptions about yourself are outlined below.
1. Ask for feedback
Feedback is the best form of bridging the gap between perception and reality.
No one likes criticism or negative feedback and you will not be any different. Taking honest feedback requires guts. It requires courage to face reality. You need to brace yourself to hear comments that you will definitely not like.
Ask for clarification and probe for more information on the feedback you receive.
You will get more information if you ask “Do you think the audience received my presentation as informative? Were they engaged during my presentation? Why or why not?” instead of simply asking a question “How was my presentation?”
The first question may get you some honest feedback but the second question is general and non-specific. You will generally evoke a response stating “your presentation was okay.” This is possibly what you wanted to hear when you asked the question!
Discussing your feedback, especially of you do not agree with what has been said is important.
2. Listen when you are receiving unsolicited feedback
Very few people take the trouble to give you feedback.
When I founded Guardian Pharmacy, I used to insist that all customer feedback was sent to me and I made it a point to respond to every customer complaint myself. I always told our team members that only a concerned customer will take the trouble to give us feedback. Most customers simply walk away from the brand since they have many other choices.
Think of how often you have thought “He loves to listen to his own voice.”
Most people believe that listening is an art when they are speaking because they want to be heard. However, they do not practice listening when it comes to hearing others speak!
This unsolicited feedback will be harsh and may make you cringe. But this will be true and whether you agree with it or not, you are being told how you are being perceived. Negative feedback, if taken in the correct spirit, will help you to course correct and move towards building Brand You and take it to places you may not have dreamed of.
3. Have someone you trust ask for feedback on your behalf
Many of us are uncomfortable asking for feedback directly from someone else.
At the same time, the person you want feedback from may hesitate to speak to you directly either because he is afraid of your reaction or simply feels awkward to speak out.
This simple challenge of getting feedback can be handled by requesting a friend or a colleague to take the feedback and communicate to you.
Often, when it comes to the work place, feedback becomes a challenge especially if a boss is looking for feedback from a subordinate. A subordinate — boss relationship, at the best of times could be tenuous and when it comes to feedback time, the subordinate will hesitate and will need to be assured repeatedly.
Though most organisations have annual and semi-annual appraisals for giving feedback, I have always believed in giving regular and ongoing feedback. Working together will be much easier and more effective if your subordinate knows where he or she stands rather than be told at the end of six or twelve months what they did right and what they did not.
At each stage in your journey towards building your personal brand, you need honest and constructive feedback to course correct as often as may be required.
4. Have a “360 review” done
A 360 review is a survey of people you work with such as your manager, colleagues, business partners, clients and those you manage. You can ask people to tell you your strengths and weaknesses. The 360 review focuses more directly on the skills and contributions that an employee makes.
The goal of the feedback is to provide a balanced view to an employee of how others view his or her contribution and performance in areas such as leadership, teamwork, interpersonal communication, management, contribution, work habits, accountability, vision, and more, depending on the employee’s job.
When you are looking at feedback for your personal brand, you could consider doing a 360 review with your family and friends as well. Set up the questions with the help of an expert and then ask for feedback.
Tell them you are doing it for personal development and encourage them to give you constructive feedback.
There will be some feedback you accept immediately and some which you do not. As discussed earlier in this chapter, it is also important to discuss your feedback to understand the reasons.
The author is a CEO Coach, a Storyteller and an Angel Investor. He hosts the highly successful podcast titled The Brand Called You. A keen political observer and commentator, he is also the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. He is the author of 7 best-selling books and writes for several online newspapers.
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