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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Personal Branding

UXL personal branding

Your personal brand is more than your company logo or the colors you choose for your website. Your personal brand is, to put it simply, you. How you act, what you say, how you dress, and how you address others all contributes to your personal brand. It’s what you’re showcasing to the world and, consequently, how others see you.

No empire is built overnight, just as no brand is transformed in a day. It takes time to build a reputation around yourself that others will respect.  But you CAN get started today by writing down some of the key goals you have for your personal brand and how you will go about achieving those goals. Start by thinking about a few key things:

  1. Your brand should be consistent.

If you want to make yourself known as the reliable, go-to person for any project, then be reliable! If you want to be known as the employee who goes out of their way to include others, then focus on being inclusive! Don’t try to fake it and be something you’re not, but DO try to capitalize on your assets and be consistent with your behaviors. And remember: the office pool can be quite small. If you act one way with one group of people and act completely different with others, that behavior will be noticed…and that’s frankly not the kind of attention you want.

  1. Review your daily activities.

Do your day-to-day activities support your personal brand? If you’re trying to promote your writing skills, but are constantly working on research projects or editing, then you’re not being true to yourself or your abilities and it’s probably time to reevaluate your daily work. Talk to a manager about getting more writing projects or volunteer for additional writing opportunities (like the monthly company newsletter).

Or maybe your goal is to rise to a leadership position. Think about your typical daily to-do list and ask yourself if your activities are contributing to the bigger picture. If not, how can you go about changing them?

  1. Stay rooted.

Yes, personal brands evolve. You might change your career goals or you might even switch positions within the company. That doesn’t mean your personal brand should be scrapped and you should start from scratch. Stay true to who you are and never lose sight of that. You might consider saying an affirmation to yourself every morning like, “I am a positive, optimistic person who always gets things done on time” or “I enjoy working with customers and go out of my way to make them happy.”

The best way to start working on improving or honing your personal brand is to have a plan. Do not approach it haphazardly and let others decide how they see you. YOU decide how you’d like to be seen. YOU have the power to build a strong, respected personal brand, brick-by-brick.

Need help getting started? Contact me today for guidance with strategic career planning.

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Reaching for StarWhat comes to mind when you hear the word “leader”? The captain of a team, perhaps? The lead soloist in an orchestra, or the director of a play?

I’d say these are all classic examples, as leaders like these inspire others to follow, thrive in the spotlight, and break new ground with their achievements. When we witness such leaders in action, it’s only natural to wonder: how did they get like that? Are great leaders born naturals, or did they learn and cultivate their skills?

To answer this, we must first dispel the myth that all leaders fit into the same cookie-cutter outlines. The examples I listed above, while all good ones, leave out many other kinds of influential leaders. Mentors, tutors, coaches, and other one-on-one roles are examples of leadership conducted behind the scenes. Similarly, parenting is a type of constant leadership that rarely gets awards or praise. There are scores of leaders who make their mark quietly, without any fanfare.

Once we see that leaders are a large, diverse group of people with all sorts of natural gifts and skills, it’s easier to see where our talents could apply to a leadership capacity. Undoubtedly, some people are naturally better equipped to fill many types of leadership roles, but no leader becomes great without dedicating time and effort into becoming better. And the biggest asset a leader has? Self-awareness.

In her article on Forbes’ website, author and coach Erika Anderson says her experience has shown the best leaders are self-aware: “Without exception, the more self-aware someone is, the easier he or she is to coach; the more improvable and better able to accept what they need in order to improve.”  I wholeheartedly agree. In my coaching experience, there’s not much you can do to help someone who is unwilling or unable to see themselves in a realistic light. I’ve had much more success coaching someone of modest skills who is self-aware.

Know your strengths, know your weaknesses, and know where you plug in to the world around you. This is the big idea behind self-awareness. You may possess amazing speaking skills, or a gift for innovative ideas, but if you cannot even accurately see who you are, and where you fit in, you’ll never be able to lead others.

That’s my thought for this week, and can you believe that next week is already August? I hope you’ve gotten a chance to get outdoors!

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In this TED talk, author Susan Cain makes the case for appreciating and accommodating introverts.

 

Her talk is insightful, and I highly recommend you watch it, but it runs almost twenty minutes, so I’ll highlight big points:

-Before all else, Cain stresses we need to be clear on what introversion is. Introversion is not the same as shyness, which is the fear of judgment from others. Extroverts, says Cain, crave social interaction, whereas introverts feel at their most capable when they are in quieter environments. The key to maximizing our talents, she says, “is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.”

-Workplaces nowadays are built with extroverts in mind: open offices, collaborative meetings, group projects, etc. Introverts’ work and success frequently suffer as a result.

-When it comes to leadership, introverts tend to be passed over for leadership positions. However, Cain points out that many of the greatest minds had big introverted streaks in them: Charles Darwin took long walks in the woods and turned down dinner invitations; Dr. Seuss came up with his stories alone in a bell tower of his house; Steve Wozniak, inventor of the first Apple computer, credits his expertise to devoting long hours alone studying computers.

Cain’s big point: We need a better balance between these two personality types in order to maximize creativity, productivity and cooperation in business and society.

What do you think? Where do you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum? How does your work environment help or hinder your success? Do you think introverts are passed up for leadership roles because they don’t fit the common view of what a leader should be?

 

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I learned early on that school just cannot teach you the “unspoken” rules of business conduct, such as how you present yourself, the words you use, and the manner in which you handle relationships and situations. All these things take time and real-world experience to truly gain mastery over.

Nowadays, I’m comfortable engaging others, speaking before large groups, and assuming roles of leadership because I can look to my past experiences for guidance and confidence.

For those of you who do not yet have this experience to draw confidence from, I recommend faking it until you make it, an often quoted phrase that may be a bit cheesy, but really works.

Case in point: social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains the science behind the power of strong body language.

To summarize, she says that there are two hormones at play here. Testosterone is a hormone that naturally occurs in animals that are dominant in their pack. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, makes it harder for us to deal with stressful situations, and consequently when there are higher levels of cortisol in our system, we tend to be more timid.

Cuddy wondered, what if we tricked our bodies into thinking that we were “dominant” in situations where we really felt small and afraid?

She found that when you pose in a powerful stance, your body actually increases its testosterone levels. On the other hand, when you pose in a small, submissive way, your body increases cortisol levels.

Conclusion: faking it until you make it is backed by science!

As with anything, this takes practice and consistency. But the more you make a point to appear confident, the more you will feel confident.

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In the big, bustling world of business, it is absolutely crucial that you make a memorable impression (the good kind of memorable!) right away. This is as true for job seekers as it is for veteran business people hoping to make big waves in their career.

The key, I’ve found, is prompt and consistent follow-ups. Here are some principles that have given me success:

1. Hang on to the contact info of business prospects. Whatever works best for you. I know folks who keep a case for business cards. I like to write down the contact info in my planner on the same day that I met them. Either way, keeping track of who you meet and how you can get a hold of them is a sure-fire way of optimizing your chances of success.

2. Contact prospects sooner, not later. A rule of thumb is within the first couple days of meeting them. You want to keep their memory of you fresh in their minds as that ideal option for them to take advantage of.

3. Remember first names, and use them. People respond well when you use their first name. It shows you view them as a unique individual, not just another business lead. Do you best to get their name the first time. It can be tough, but think about how you’ve felt when someone has said to you, “I’m sorry, what was your name again?” That’s never good for business.

4. Never burn bridges. Many leads turn out to be dead ends, but don’t let this get you down. You never know when a prospect who has turned you down in the past may approach you in the future, but they certainly won’t do so if they had a negative experience interacting with you. Stay positive, hang on to their business card, and keep that door open.

Good luck!

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Run_With_Perseverance

I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling of excitement we get when we decide, gosh darn it, that we’re going to go on a diet, or get in shape, or work our way to our dream job. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? It’s a relief to know you don’t have to settle for less.

But if you’re anything like me, you’re also pretty well acquainted with the feelings that begin to creep on in the following weeks. You begin to rationalize: “I’ve been doing so great with this diet, I’ll allow myself some ice cream as a reward.” Or how about this one: “Well, I’ve had no luck getting interviews so far, and the job I have now isn’t so bad, so I’ll just stop looking and keep on doing this.”

Then you look back on the excitement you had only a few weeks prior, that eagerness to make a positive change, and you become discouraged when you realize you haven’t really changed at all. That’s when you’re saboteur, that voice of constant self-doubt, takes over. “You were never going to make that change. You’re just a mediocre person. Leave the big goals for the big people.”

Lies, lies, lies!

If you’re serious about achieving your goals, you need to understand that it won’t come right away. It’ll take work. Merely getting excited after deciding to make a change is great, but it takes more to achieve your goals.

It Takes 14 Days To Break A Habit

Keep in mind that you are used to living a certain way. If you let yourself, you’ll easily slip back into your default lifestyle. Part of achieving a new goal means intentionally behaving differently everyday until the new behavior sticks.

With bad habits, like overeating, smoking, or too much drinking, expect a voice inside you to tempt you to “reward yourself” by falling back into the very patterns of behavior you’ve worked so hard to alter. Think about the absurdity of that notion: that’s like saying to someone who is learning how to walk again after an accident, “As a reward for doing all this agonizing work to regain use of your legs, how about you take a break and stay in the wheelchair indefinitely?”

You Won’t See Results Instantly

Doesn’t matter. You resolved to make a change, so take that seriously. Your saboteur will try to tell you that it’s pointless, that you just aren’t cut out for this. It’ll use every setback as a way to try to convince you to go back to your old ways.

This is because it’s scared of your progress. It likes complacency. Ignore the negative voice in your head and keep doing what you know you need to do.

There’s Virtue In Following Through On Your Goals

Even if you don’t see results right away, you should be proud of the fact that you’re living according to your own personal standards. You’re taking away all the ammunition the saboteur uses against you. Besides, you know going in that there will be setbacks. You know what your saboteur will try to tell you. You’re prepared. This is just part of the journey.

Making A Change Isn’t A One Time Decision. It’s A Daily Resolve

Because of this, be sure that your goals are realistic going in. Will you really be the next U.S. President? Probably not. Focus on things you know you can do, and take steps forward daily

What are your goals? What’s holding you back? What is your game plan?

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Brainstorming_Young_iStock_4653977XSmallOne of my favorite parts of business is brainstorming. I love getting all my people in a room together and letting them unleash their ideas and opinions. The energy level in these types of meetings is usually sky high, as laughter and enthusiasm for upcoming projects abound.

I’ve had a lot of experience conducting successful brainstorm sessions, but there was a time when I wondered whether these types of meetings were useful. After all, how often do they result in off topic digressions, scattered tidbits and unorganized, unfocused planning? A bit too much, if truth be told.

I had to learn that as the person guiding the brainstorming, it was my responsibility to keep the ideas pushing forward toward the end objective. To do that, I developed a few techniques:

1. First and foremost, keep the atmosphere light and low-pressure. Your team is with you for a reason. You trust their ability and their input. However, there are always those of us who are less eager to speak up. To get the ball rolling, make it clear that the brainstorm is a safe place to get creative without fear of judgement.

2. Lay out the objectives of the meeting beforehand. Giving your team time to think things through on their own before the meeting will help keep them focused and realistic. While improvisation and wild ideas are part of the fun of any brainstorm session, specifying clear objectives up front will enhance the meeting’s productivity.

3. Provide a visual map of the meeting as you go. I like using big sheets of paper and a box of colored markers. Friends of mine swear by a good old white board, while still others have gone digital and taken notes with a laptop and a projector. It doesn’t matter what medium you use, but I highly recommend guiding the meeting visually to keep the team from being bored, confused or disengaged.

4. Ask specific questions of each of your team members. Show them that they are valued by tailoring questions to their skill sets and asking their opinions.

5. delegate the work once a solution is reached, and email the notes you took for the team to go back to for reference.

Good luck, and have fun!

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