Monday, June 22, 2015

Leadership Development: Self-awareness and Creating Your Personal Brand

This post is part of a series on leadership development.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently participating in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as part of my work at Franklin University. This week, I attended a presentation by Dr. Lynn Hull the Dean of Students at Franklin University, and Robert ColesDirector of Creative Services and Brand Management Franklin University. These two excellent presenters share their insights about reflectively and conscientiously creating a "personal brand" to communicate clearly about who you are to others in a variety of media. The notes below are from their presentation. As in previous posts, their ideas and my own are intermingled.

Dr. Lynn Hull in the foreground presenting at the Leadership Development Program at Franklin University. 
Part 1 - the Four-Color Self-Assessment
Self-awareness is critical to success. When we are aware of ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, ambitions and desires, we can more effectively bring about those things that matter most to us. One way to develop self-awareness is to utilize self-assessment tools. In this presentation, we were directed to identify our preferences in work and communication using the four-color method. We were given descriptions of these four categories and were directed to rank them to most-preferred to least-preferred. Below are descriptions of these color categories, which I present in the sequence that I personally prefer.

  1. Green = 5 - 7% of population. Lots of greens in education. They are rational - conceptual thinkers, thinking globally and analytically. Want us to be logical when thinking about things. Why consider something that doesn't make sense intellectually. Strategy is interesting to the green - setting it up and thinking through the process excites the green. Can be detached when things get emotionally charged and sort through the facts. Creative, innovative, inventive. Like to think but not necessarily to act. Diversity of interests. Value competence, not necessarily niceness. Might neglect important tasks because other things are interesting. Might not realize that the debate is not as fun to others as it is to them. They want knowledge, power, willpower, and mastery.
  2. Blue = 8 - 10% of population. Idealists. Empathetic and caring about others. Look for the best in people and try to bring it out. They are excellent diplomats and are interested in social issues - working to "right" social "wrongs." Insightful and creative, always trying to read a room and sense what is happening. Enjoy self-development and self-improvement. They always bring a human perspective. They have difficulty saying no. They have a need to feel needed and are extremely sensitive to criticism.
  3. Gold = 40-45% of population. Precision. Practicality. Results-oriented. Logistics. Systems and processes. Harness resources without talking about them. Loyalty, stability, and routine. Tell me what you want, and I will get us there. They like rules, responsibilities, and duty. They need to feel a sense of membership and belonging.
  4. Orange = 35-40% of the population. Artisans - physical beings. Playful and light-hearted. Don't love routine - they like change and flexibility. "Why get stuck doing things the same old way?" Very action-oriented - they want to do something instead of sitting around and talking. They are tactical in nature and concrete and adaptable to changes. Orange does very well in competitive environments. Bold, generous, bring excitement. Orange can be fairly laid back and might goof around a little too much. An orange might change directions fairly regularly and be a little scattered in their directions.
My name badge from the meeting. The dots show how I ranked my preferences for each category.
As I think about it, my beautiful wife Katie is a Blue/Orange. She is incredibly effective with people (blue) and loves to push the rules to shake things up (orange). She definitely makes my life fun, something that might be missing (since orange is ranked low). My daughter CK is definitely Orange. She likes to jump from thing to thing and doesn't love doing things the established way.

Part 2 - Personal Branding 
"A brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a product or service it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and quality." - Walter Landor
With your color scheme, you have a starting point for understanding your personal brand. The next step is to mobilize your brand - to identify how you are perceived, how you would like to be perceived, and begin to work to shape that perception through branding. 

How to Mobilize Your Brand

  1. Listen and Understand - Listen to people about your brand. What do they value in you? How do they describe you? Talk to someone who can tell you a little more about your personal brand. "Who am I, and how do I tell it?"
  2. Interpret and Simplify - Be clear about who you are. "How can I distill my story to its basic elements?" Assign words and phrases to your personal brand. Create 3 words that exemplify my brand. 
  3. Develop and Design - When you know the essence of your brand, ask "what forms and colors best express it?" How can I visually represent myself? We live in a visual world.
  4. Evaluate and Collaborate - the imagery should match the vision. "Does the design communicate the brand as it should?"
  5. Deliver and Implement - Consistency is the key. Put all the pieces in place so every aspect of your brand speaks with one voice.
Side-note of Reflective Thoughts - I would like to follow this process and use the results to pull my blog, website, LinkedIn page, Twitter account, and other profiles together and demonstrate a clearer message of who I am. It needs to visually capture who I am and what I offer. The same might go for all of my communications, the products I produce, etc. To use Robert's words, "This is what people are attracted to about me." 

Conduct a SWOT Analysis

One way to develop your brand is to conduct a SWOT Analysis. Below are some thoughts I brainstormed about myself as I sat in this session.

My Strengths
  • I think clearly
  • I pull information together in meaningful ways
  • I care about people
  • I have a high level of formal education
  • I am constantly learning and growing through reading, conferences, leadership development, and credentialing
  • I effectively involve people in my thinking and decision-making
  • I have mastered several techniques and strategies associated with excellence in academia
My Weaknesses
  • I am less aware of the political aspects of work
  • I do not have a business background
  • I may miss out on opportunities to making money - I am more interested in creating ideas that can influence and help others create positive change.
My Opportunities
  • Gain greater focus in my career
  • Brand myself to be seen as more effective
  • Set powerful goals to achieve
  • Constant change
  • Complacency, becoming satisfied 

Key Question: What is my Vision and My Mission?

What do I want to have happen as a result of my work? How would I know that I have successfully accomplished my mission? First of all, I am constantly tweaking and updating my personal mission, and I have made some great improvements. Here is my current mission: To empower, inspire, and equip others to improve themselves, their lives, and the world. 
So, the next question is, how do I know that I have achieved this mission? To me, I think I should likely break this mission down into a set of goals and measures that I can use to determine the effectiveness of my work. Just brainstorming, my thought is that the following measures might be meaningful. Again, these are simply a brainstormed list, and I would likely need to be clearer about this.

  • # of presentations given
  • # of presentation attendees
  • # of publications
  • # of publications viewed, cited, or purchased
  • # of people who recommend my work
Potential Goal: It might be interesting to work toward 1 million views of my work posted online. This could include my blog posts, YouTube Videos, academic articles, presentation slides, etc. I think this would be an interesting/motivating thing to work toward and could be one way to measure impact (though there are many others, certainly).

What is Brand Identity?

Brand Identity is the visual and verbal expression of a brand that can include the following: Logos, Websites, Print Documents, Packaging, Signage, Mobile/Social Media, Videos, and Photos. How can I audit my current brand and create plans to improve it?

Getting Feedback
The first step identified above is to find out what others perceive to be your brand. This involves getting feedback. However, you shouldn't get feedback only from people who will only focus on your strengths. Also get feedback from people who will help you improve and change the things with which you are struggling. Feedback should be constructive, formative, and objective. It should give you a sense of where you are and how you can move forward.

Find someone in this room who is of a different color (referring to the color chart, here!!!!). Share the following with them:

  1. What do you see as this person's gifts?
  2. What might be this person's personal brand?
  3. What might you do together to collaborate and move forward together?
Ideas for Application
  • Follow the sequence above to really work toward a personal brand.
  • Develop a sort of tagline that captures who I am and what I do. This becomes a component of my brand.
  • Identify colors, shapes, and images that correspond to my personal brand.
  • Update my LinkedIn site to include words and phrases about my brand.
  • Adjust my pre-publication drafts to include branding or logos that refer to me and my brand.
  • Update my vitae and website to include these words and images.
  • Revisit all of my web spaces to reflect my refreshed personal brand.
60 seconds of Reflection
We have been doing 30 seconds of reflection at the end of each leadership session. Here is what I wrote for this one: I am not sure about the homework assignment to meet with someone else - maybe... In terms of the idea of "personal branding," I believe this is likely a key way to improve how I represent myself. Actually, this really aligns with some of the things I have been thinking about. I have been working to gain a greater deal of clarity on my personal goals and my mission. This then spills into how I represent myself through my "brand." I'll keep thinking on this...

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