If you want to be seen as ready for promotion, cultivate a personal leadership brand.
An impressive personal brand doesn’t just signal to your senior leaders and peers that you’re someone on the way up; the very process of working on your personal brand also makes you more self-aware, more knowledgeable, and more disciplined, making you a clear choice for promotion. So, here are seven strategies to build your brand as a leader.
1. Know what you excel at (and then tailor your strengths to the business need.)
There are different kinds of leaders and the first step is figuring out where your leadership talent lies. Are you collaborative, inspirational, motivational, managerial, or transformational? Furthermore, what particular specialist skills do you have that will be attractive to the business when you become a leader? Do you have a large network? Are you particularly IT savvy, or are you good at digital strategy?
Once you’ve established what your strong traits are, you need to match them with the company culture and the business needs. When you have a clear idea of how your skills and style match the business goals, you can develop them further and work on your ‘pitch’ for promotion.
2. Become known as a thought leader.
Becoming known as an expert in your field is the most powerful way to gain professional respect and get yourself on the promotion path. Attend seminars (even better, present at them) subscribe to industry and leadership journals and start writing a blog on LinkedIn and commenting on forums. When you’re posting or sharing anything online, ask yourself: is this in line with the personal brand I’m aiming for?
Your expertise won’t just make you look a more likely contender for promotion; it will also build your knowledge so that you genuinely become a better leader.
3. Smarten up your online presence.
Nothing will diminish your professional image as much as an unprofessional online presence. Those rowdy facebook pictures need to be managed—either be exceedingly careful with your privacy settings, change your profile name to a nickname, or get rid of Facebook altogether. And don’t use your Facebook profile pictures on Linkedin!
Do an audit of your online presence by Googling yourself and doing damage control on anything that might be viewed as unprofessional.
While you’re at it, get some professional headshots done, update your LinkedIn profile so it reflects where you want to go and join some relevant online groups that might prove professionally advantageous. Consider a website of your own if you have something to say that builds your professional credibility.
4. Network heavily.
As your network and reputation grow, you become a more attractive leadership proposition not only to your company due to your business connection, but you also become a person of interest to other employers as well. You may receive job offers from other companies and interest from head-hunters, which in turn may encourage your company offer you what you want in order to keep you. By building your network, you become a commodity – in the right way!
5. Identify how you can help.
Become ‘the person who helps’, Certain people can influence the success of your promotion attempt; the most obvious being your direct manager. Consider how you can help that person in their role right now so that you are then perceived as an individual who really does add value.
Additionally, consider how you can help others in your team, as these people may well be consulted when it’s promotion time; the more friends you have ‘on side’, the better. Having a good relationship with your team will also help the leadership transition when you do get promoted.
6. Find a mentor.
Finding a mentor to help guide you is a superb way to climb the career ladder. If you can find someone you respect who has experience in your field, then that’s particularly good.
However, we know that there are not nearly enough people out there willing to volunteer their time as mentors (successful people are always busy), so if you absolutely cannot find a mentor, then use the internet as a learning tool.
There are so many entrepreneurs, senior managers and professional coaches out there who have written books and blogs, and hosted seminars and webinars on how to get promoted/be a better leader/become more productive – the sky is the limit for how much you can learn from others.
7. Ask what your development areas are.
Sometimes, there’ll be a behaviour or skill gap you exhibit that is barring your way to promotion, and yet you don’t even know what it is. For example, you might be brilliant at your job, but a terrible time manager—what kind of business is going to promote someone who can’t hit deadlines to run their team?
Additionally, your manager might not even know you want a promotion, because you’ve never told them.
A suggestion, sit down with your current manager, make it clear you want a promotion, and ask them what they believe you could work on in order to achieve that goal. Be welcoming of any feedback, no matter how uncomfortable, and then start working on a plan to develop yourself.
Your manager will walk away from the meeting clear on your ambitions and they should know the steps they’ll need to take to help you move towards that goal. Your professional conduct during the meeting should also have them thinking of you as a potential leader.
The potential to build your brand is immense; exciting isn’t it? What steps to develop your personal leadership will you start implementing today?
Until next time,