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Updated: Apr 13

How Emerging Executives Can Shift to Total Rebirth While Increasing Employee Retention






The COVID-19 global pandemic has created a digital tectonic shift in communication. Remote working has become a way of life for many people around the world and has presented opportunities and challenges for emerging executives and team development. It is well known that having a strong personal brand can create opportunities within a company or even externally if for some reason an employee is made redundant.


Building a personal brand in the Zoom era has an opportunity cost of lost emotional connection which affects trust with peers, leaders and teams. As a means for survival, most leaders have focused heavily on the necessary tangible components of their roles and abandoned personal professional development to a certain degree. So, in fact, they have commoditized their personal brands, which is quite dangerous.


“A personal brand is a perception in the minds of others that must be developed, nurtured and managed by rising stars—the notion that there is no one else in the marketplace quite like them. Their personal brand will stand at the forefront of influencing all types of stakeholders in the niches your firm serves via their experience, expertise, thought leadership, honesty, integrity and capabilities”. (Source: Journal of Accountancy).

Strategic personal brand building is a necessary component of professional development for emerging executives and should be built from the inside-out. Personal branding building should consist of a mix of executive coaching, therapy, and career development where a high-performing leader ultimately discovers or rediscovers his/her WHY, establishes an authentic leadership style and begins to operate from a true place of purpose. Self-discovery should be the initial focus of one’s personal branding coaching journey, then Strategy and thirdly, Activation.


All companies (and leaders) can benefit from rebirth – change that leads to a new period of improvement for the brand, and this applies to personal branding too. Steve Forbes shared that “investment in one’s brand is the most strategic decision that companies can make, because without the brand, there is no differentiation". Without differentiation, brands compete merely on price and simply blend in.


Here are 10 steps that you or an emerging executive within your organization can take to build an authentic personal brand.


1. DETERMINE YOUR BRAND PREVISION (VISION)


This is a great time to assess where you are in your role, where you would like to go and what really brings you joy (not merely happiness). You should question why you want to build your brand and determine what success looks like for you in the short-term and long-term. It is totally appropriate to profile other thought leaders within your organization (or externally) so that you can solidify who you want to ‘become’. If you are working with a coach, he/she should help you determine what it would take for you to achieve true ‘self-actualization’. Brand goals should be established based on what you have defined that brings you joy so that you will have an anchor to build upon.


According to the Alan Vitberg, "Developing Your Personal Brand Equity", Journal of Accountancy, July 10, 2010,

“Personal brand equity refers to the (1) intangible value that individuals bring to the firm in terms of their ability to influence others by leveraging their experience, expertise and reputation (2) relationships they have built and maintained, and (3) the tangible value they bring in terms of their contribution to firm revenues and growth”(Source: Journal of Accountancy).

When you determine your brand prevision, it provides a roadmap to build your personal brand equity. All in all, this is a foundational step to building one’s personal brand.



2. ESTABLISH PERSONAL CORE VALUES


Core values demonstrate what energizes you as a person and can prescribe how you are geared to generate more success in your career. When you joined the organization you work for, you most likely learned about the brand’s core values. Well, it is important to determine your own personal core values as they measure core and unchanging motivational drivers. There are some great tools that will get you past choosing basic core values that don’t resonate with you at the deepest level. After establishing core values for your personal brand, look to see if you have values-alignment with your company.


It is important to find a way to connect with your organization and team at the core values level as well.


According to the Qualtrics State of Global Engagement Report, “Confidence in senior leadership to make the right decisions for the company is a top employee engagement driver and represents 53% of 13K responses spanning 12 countries, along with managers who help employees with career development (50%)”.

All in all, when emerging executives discover their personal core values and work for companies that invest in their professional development, it fosters a greater sense of engagement for them and invigorates their leadership impact.


3. DETERMINE YOUR WHY



It is a known fact that purpose-driven brands are more successful and build community. A poll conducted by Fred Kiel at KRW International found that CEOs who were seen as authentic in living the company’s purpose produced a higher return on assets (9.35%) vs. just 1.93% for those who rated lower. This statistic also applies to personal brands that are purpose-driven. When emerging executives and corporate leaders know their why (reason for being), their what (they do) has a greater impact.


As emerging executives desire corporate ascension and transition into leading teams, it becomes imperative that they understand the internal operating system that drives their decisions, direction, and behavior. It is a known fact that senior leaders/emerging executives struggle with team cohesion and lack confidence in their remote teams (at times).


In fact, according to a study on engagement, “Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies around $400-$500 billion each year".

Hence, in addition to emerging executives discovering their WHY, they should try and find a way to understand their team’s WHY”. Overall, determining your WHY, then that of your team’s WHY is a pivotal milestone in practicing authenticity, kinetic leadership and shows more promise of becoming more aligned with your company purpose.


4. PERFORM A SWOT ANALYSIS


Developed in the 1960s, SWOT stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Threats and is a strategic planning and management framework that was developed by the Stanford Research Institute and funded by Fortune 500 companies. After experiencing deep discovery with the steps, the SWOT can help one analyze additional dimensions using an objective lens and better define what one has to offer. It is also a powerful and systematic tool that can help when applied to personal branding. It has four quadrants and analyzes one’s internal self (Strengths & Weaknesses) and external self (Opportunities & Threats). Performing a SWOT will increase your emotional intelligence (self-awareness) and build a roadmap for personal success within the organization and will ultimately benefit your company as well.



5. DETERMINE THE PROBLEM YOU SOLVE


This is where you think beyond your daily tasks and responsibilities and go a little deeper. Look at your company’s vision statement, strategic goals, individual development plan and define what problem your skills sets are truly solving. Try your best to quantify the problem you are solving in terms of cost savings or opportunity costs of not solving the problem. Think about the “pains” that the organization is experiencing. Focus on the big jobs (initiatives) that your department or division is trying to get done and find your footing in it.


6. DEFINE AND ANALYZE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE


It’s critical to understand whom you are serving (target audience) both internally and externally on a psychographic level. Psychographics go beyond basic demographics and look deeply into attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, interests and opinions. Think about the internal stakeholders (leaders, teams, etc.) you have visibility with and responsibility to on a regular basis. If your role (or the impact of your role) is externally facing, make sure you understand your customers on a psychographic level.


Ensure that you understand what is preventing your internal customer from getting his/her job done so that you can alleviate these pains. Frameworks like the Value Proposition Canvas help with fleshing out this thinking and is a great resource.


7. CRAFT BENEFITS AND REASONS TO BELIEVE


Benefits in personal branding for emerging executives refer to what is offered to the target audience (internal stakeholders) in terms of value. If your work product results in a stellar reputation for your department or #1 sales status, then document it. In brand management, benefits come in three packages: functional, emotional and self-expressive.


Functional benefits refer to tangible benefits of experiencing the brand. In the case of personal branding, this could refer to the outcomes of your work like cost savings or efficiency. It’s important to focus on what outcomes you achieve and not merely the processes you use to arrive at these outcomes.


Emotional benefits refer to how the brand makes people feel (i.e., satisfied, relieved, safe) when they work with you.


Self-expressive benefits refer to how the brand communicates its self -image and symbolizes their customers’ self-concept. It is most concerned with “what does using your brand say about your customers.” (Source)

For example, when Sheila works with Byron (the emerging executive), she is smart because Byron has a strong track record of success in process improvement.


Once benefits are crafted for one’s personal brand, the focus can shift to 'Reasons to Believe' which are proof points of why others should believe in you. It is commonly used in corporate branding and is a precursor to establishing a strong unique selling proposition.


8. UNEARTH YOUR BRAND IDENTITY


After becoming fully self-aware, unearthing core values, determining your WHY and other aforementioned steps, the personal brand is ready to be brought to life. This could include a plethora of things including: a professional brand photoshoot, brand personality discovery, personal brand statement, customized color-palette and font/typeface identification.


9. DEVISE YOUR CHANNEL STRATEGY


After making the investment in building a solid and authentic brand, the next step should involve determining the best channels to share and promote this personal brand masterpiece. Covid-19 forced the world into remote working and for many companies, it will remain like this. Hence, it is imperative that one’s personal branding channel strategy have a strong digital (on-line) component.


Generally speaking, your channel strategy could involve assessing internal platforms, events, and opportunities at your company to leverage. Additionally, the focus could include external speaking opportunities, podcasts, forums, blogs, conferences, an intentional LinkedIn strategy or alliances that would improve and augment the reach of your personal brand for the dual benefit of you and your company. The determining factor in personal branding platform selection is where your target audience spends time and consumes content and it will most likely be digital.



10. ACTIVATE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

Branding is about ‘being’ and marketing is about ‘doing’. Activation (marketing) in personal branding requires expanding your reach and generating awareness with your audience and ultimately creating brand evangelists. Brand evangelists are those who strongly insist on consuming your brand and sharing it with others.


Developing consistent and engaging content for your target audience is crucial. Foundational content could include: well written long-form and short-form bios, white papers, optimized LinkedIn profiles, videos (pre-recorded and live), participation in podcasts, personal website development, Linktree, etc.


Content development is an iterative process and should be tested, refined, and optimized to ensure relevance to your target audience. Once you achieve the ‘foundational’ personal branding steps 1-8, you might require minor retooling over time, but you should not have to make major changes. Steps 9-10 that are focused on activation and marketing are short-term and can be adapted and changed to suit the dynamic needs of platforms and technology.


CONCLUSION

Emerging executives and high-performing leaders in the corporate space, particularly in the technology sector, should view personal brand development as an opportunity for career growth and leadership development. “It is also important for upper management to understand and support the concept of personal branding and its importance for a firm’s growth and legacy. Personal brand equity planning should be a part of every firm’s succession plan to protect its future growth and viability”. (Source: Journal of Accountancy)


Personal branding increases greatly emotional intelligence, improves relationships and enables leaders to communicate from a point of strength. It would be beneficial for companies (HR departments) to support personal branding and executive coaching as a part of professional development for high-performing leaders.

"Employees who say their manager is not good at communicating are 23% more likely to experience mental health declines” according to a HBR study with Qualtrics and SAP."

Simply put, personal branding helps emerging executives lead better. Personal brand development is self-care for the aspiring and ascending emerging executive leader who is courageous enough to lead during a global pandemic and beyond. When emerging executives work with professionals to build their personal brand equity, it can produce lasting effects for them and the organization.


Tanika Vital-Pringle, Global MBA Brand Management, is a Personal Brand and Corporate Brand Strategist for Brand Rebirth who has over 20 years of experience working for global Fortune 50 companies and beyond. She is a certified WHY Coach and offers comprehensive personal branding coaching programs for Emerging Executives & High-Performing Leaders and Workshops to build employee engagement for teams. Book a discovery call today.

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It is a well-known fact that having a strong brand can establish an expectation that something is of higher quality than the competition, even if the difference is minimal. Brand strategists have long taught that company brands must find a way to achieve powerful differentiation in order to charge a premium. This is because brands compete on intangible attributes and commodities compete on price or convenience. Some might ponder - but, what about emerging executives, particularly those in the technology sector? What are the implications for their careers and personal brands during a global pandemic and post-COVID world?


Tom Peters shared this powerful quote in Inc. Magazine that resonates with many “we are the CEOs of our companies, Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”


This implies that career professionals, particularly emerging executives and high-potential corporate team leaders should view themselves as brands and cultivate authentic personal brands for themselves. Personal brand development is particularly needed in the field of technology since it is usually forgotten due to the belief that the technical aspects of the job are only pertinent. Additionally, personal branding can help leaders create a competitive advantage and build content to maximize their digital presence so that they will be better equipped for a post-COVID world.


Defining Personal Branding

A personal brand refers to vivid intangible attributes and/or associations that exists in one’s mind and heart about an individual. All these colorful and (hopefully) positive attributes create a magical pull so that others will be drawn (even magnetized) towards you. In a professional sense, these are the attributes (like reliable, innovative, accurate, genius, etc.) that enable leaders to create emotional connections so that others can experience all of what they have to offer.


John Sherry, noted ‘Brandthropologist’, wrote a very academic, yet poignant definition in Kellogg on Branding by Alice M. Tybout and Tim Calkins that I find to be quite riveting – “The brand is a principal repository of meaning in consumer culture. It is both a storehouse and a powerhouse of meaning”. Hence, one’s personal brand stores meaning, powerful meaning that others should experience on a multi-dimensional level that goes beyond a leader’s technical abilities.


Benefits to Building a Personal Brand

Building a personal brand helps to establish authority in the marketplace (both internal and external) as it amplifies your leadership potential. Some tangible benefits of personal branding include: increasing earning potential and/or getting promoted, attracting mentors/recruiters in the organization, becoming an influencer, uncovering professional purpose, improving people relationships and creating team balance . According to Waller and Waller, “professionals who build their brand make 47% more money than those who don’t”.


Kinetic Leadership Trends

Executives in the C-Suite (Chief Technology Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Marketing Officers, Chief People Officers, etc.) generally receive coaching to further build their leadership effectiveness, especially with team management. Emerging executives and senior team leaders in the technology space need the same level of focus in the form of personal branding, which can include some executive coaching elements. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Technology Leadership Study of over 1,311 survey participants across global geographies, “technology leaders are being called upon to serve as kinetic leaders –a supercharged change instigator, pursuing transformation while ensuring resilience.”



Transformation cannot take place alone; it requires vision setting, collaboration and teams who embrace, internalize, and execute the vision. Hence, effective leaders (particularly in technology), should strengthen “soft skills” like emotional intelligence, authenticity, building tribes, influence, and purpose. Encouraging collaboration, empowerment and an intrapraneurship-mindset within the organization can help make kinetic leaders more effective and impactful, as well.


Challenges in Tech Industries

According to CNET.com, 2018, imposter syndrome is prevalent within the tech industry, with about 58% of tech employees stating that they currently experience some form of the condition within their careers. It is key to note that kinetic leaders in tech and (other industries) can greatly limit their effectiveness if they (or their team members) have an intense fear of failure, are unconsciously sabotaging their own success or feel that they need to work 1,000% harder to be treated the same.


Strong Personal Brands That Demonstrate Kinetic Leadership

In order for leaders to build their personal brands, others have to be aware that their brands exist. Brand recall occurs when people (consumers) demonstrate an ability to remember/recognize attributes about a brand when given minimal stimuli (i.e., name, colors, etc). It is used daily when we think about consumer brands and applies to personal branding as well.


Steve Wozniak is an electronics engineer, programmer, philanthropist, and co-founder of Apple Inc. He is known for creating Apple 1 and co-creating Apple II. He is affectionately known as the “Woz” for his technical brilliance and has subsequently launched other companies. He is a person of influence because of his purpose-driven nature – he strongly held that “Apple’s products could change people’s lives once they got into people’s homes”. This belief was infectious and transformative for subsequent teams and staff at Apple. Even today, Woz is a house-hold name, celebrity and even appeared on Dancing with the Stars, which indicates the relevance of his personal brand to transcend industry categories.



Woz’s counterpart and co-creator, Steve Jobs, embodied the definition of a kinetic leader. He got people to “buy into” his vision. He developed his marketing and communications “soft” skills to lead Apple to success and inspired and motivated his employees to exceed expectations. Jobs had an intrapraneurship mindset and has a personal brand that has a powerhouse of meaning. He knew his WHY and became known for it.


Jessica O. Matthews, Founder & CEO of Unchartered Power is an energy inventor who invented the Sockket, an energy-generating soccer ball. She went on to found Uncharted Power, a sustainable infrastructure company that transforms the ground beneath us into an industrial IoT platform that streamlines the deployment and management of infrastructures, such as power lines and broadband. Source: Oracle Blog. I have personally worked with Jessica and observed how she uses purpose and solving problems that affect people and society to magnetize her personal brand. She will continue to be an influencer for generations to come and inspire teams to join her tribe.


Reshma Saujani is a leading activist and founder of Girls Who Code and the Marshall Plan for Moms. She began her career as an attorney and activist and in 2010, she became the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. During the race, Reshma visited local schools and saw the gender gap in computing classes firsthand, which led her to start Girls Who Code. Today, Girls Who Code has taught 300,000 girls through direct in-person computer science education programming and reached 500 million people worldwide through its New York Times-bestselling book series and award-winning campaigns. Source. Reshma’s transformative personal brand has earned her broad recognition in top-tier media outlets.


Conclusion

Success in personal branding takes work, structure, gut, and consistency. There are many roads to doing it well and the benefits outweigh the costs. All four of the before mentioned leaders demonstrate kinetic leadership in very different ways and are all uber effective. According to CEOs surveyed in BrandPie’s 2021 CEO Purpose Report, “the activation of purpose (your WHY) is still a skill that leaders recognize needs developing”. As corporate leaders (particularly technology leaders) become kinetic leaders-- change instigators and more purpose driven, they should deepen their focus and commitment to personal branding. This will help to decrease imposter syndrome, strengthen communication skills, uncover professional purpose, and achieve team balance in this virtual and remote world.


Tanika Vital-Pringle, Global MBA Brand Management, is a Certified WHY Coach and Personal Brand and Corporate Brand Strategist for Brand Rebirth. She offers comprehensive coaching programs for Emerging Executives & High-Performing Leaders and Workshops for teams.


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by Tanika Vital-Pringle, Global MBA, MCIM


There are a plethora of proven ways to differentiate your brand, but you can actually focus on strategically building an iconic brand as a means to achieving powerful differentiation. Fully conducting research on your target customer segments and using psychographic methods to form insights is a precursor to going deep with brand building.


Thus, there are four branding hacks that I suggest that you focus on to begin the process of building an iconic brand: Purpose, Prevision, Personality and Promise. This article will focus on the first two: Purpose and Prevision.


Rebirth is about growth for your brand that leads to improvement. All businesses can benefit from hacks that, when applied appropriately and in the proper order, can result in growth for the enterprise or organization in a short time.


The branding hacks that will be shared have been used on top brands and start-ups to successfully bring them to life when coupled with additional strategic moves. When developed and executed properly within the organization and externally with customers, these hacks cause rebirth.



You might have reflected on the concept of purpose on a personal level at some point in your life. For some, purpose comes up when determining your next career or relationship move. Well, it is a very essential topic in the organizational context as it relates to brand and it’s important to have a firm grasp for how it aligns with other more talked-about aspects of an organization.


Purpose has been a hot topic in branding and organizational development for some time now. It is said to be an organization's why or a bold affirmation of its reason for being in business. Another way to describe organizational purpose is the overarching reason for existing. It is something that will never reach its full potential. It is the ideal that you will always strive toward.


Many metaphorically refer to purpose as the North Star. Having it assures that you have a guide and are headed in the right direction. If you travel from New York to California or South Africa to Ghana without a guide (or a pilot), it will likely be a challenging journey. You can still very well make it to California or Ghana but you will likely get lost along the way, take routes you wish you’d avoided, and run into some detours.


That would not be the most efficient way to make your journey. Alternatively, having a North Star as your guide would enable you to make more well-informed choices and reach your destination with less frustration, better safety, and utilizing fewer resources.

Establishing and operating from an anchor of purpose can create a competitive advantage for your brand. Furthermore, purpose-driven brands have a stronger affinity for being authentic and that should be your goal.


So, what does a solid organizational purpose statement actually look like?


Let’s take a look at two great purpose statements from some companies you are likely to know.


Female-founded apparel and footwear company, Spanx, has a great brand purpose,


To help women feel great about themselves and their potential.“


That is a powerful statement and provides the latitude to continually expand the product offering to accommodate the ever-growing (and never-ending) needs for women to feel great about themselves.


Spanx founder and self-made billionaire, Sara Blakely, is an inspiration for many women because she solved a problem that many of us experience—daily wardrobe woes. Since its inception in 1998[JS1] , this American brand has grown from its retail shops in Atlanta, GA to expansion into more than fifty countries.


American fast-food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A, has a purpose that drives them internally and it is also in the public eye. Chick-fil-A’s stated purpose is


To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”


Most people know about Chick-fil-A’s schedule which is unusual for the restaurant industry. Being closed on Sundays, Chick-fil-A believes they are supporting employees while driving their purpose. There are even optional Monday morning devotions at the corporate headquarters site in College Park, GA.


This brand, which has a franchise business model, realizes that people join cultures and not just companies when they seek employment. Their stated core values reflect their purpose statement and they foster a culture of care for their employees and customers.




Constructing your company vision or prevision is a key step in creating the future for your brand. A prevision is a strategic and emotionally compelling picture in your mind's eye of the way things could be in the days ahead. It should be bold, audacious, and concise. Like vision, prevision concentrates on the future. It focuses on thinking ahead rather than on dwelling upon or seeking to replicate the past. Prevision describes what the future of your brand will look like; it does not detail how you will get there.


"Prevision reflects a realistic perspective; it is not dreaming the impossible dream, but dreaming the most possible dream."


The Prevision statement should be developed in a two-part process. The first step involves the development of the Prevision Portrait (paragraph) before moving on to the actual Prevision 7.0 statement. Developing the Prevision Portrait is a whole-brained activity, meaning that it involves using both sides of your brain or the rational and the irrational. It is also a time to brainstorm with no limits which is better known as blue sky thinking. In many cases, the Prevision Portrait forms the basis for an imaginative brand manifesto statement.


Speaking in colorful and inspirational language helps to create the magical pull of branding that draws or magnetizes others to your brand. That Prevision Portrait document should not exceed one page in length and should look seven years out.


Sony developed this “Prevision Portrait”-like statement back in the 1950s.




This prevision portrait statement resulted in Sony's Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) Prevision statement over 20 years ago.


To become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products”.


So, Sony’s Prevision statement fully encapsulated the Prevision Portrait in a fairly succinct way. More importantly, Sony has unequivocally achieved its Prevision. Today, the Sony brand is synonymous to quality and innovation in Electronics, Entertainment and Gaming. Keep in mind that if you are already doing these things, then it is a mission, previsions are forward-looking.


Let's look at Cloud Media, based in Hyderabad, India. It is a (fictitious) woman-owned company owned by Anjali Patel, Managing Director of Cloud Media. Cloud Media's Prevision Portrait resulted in this Prevision statement:


"To become the #1 media company in terms of circulation that will connect both domestic and diasporic Indian professionals who crave tri-lingual content that will help them thrive.


Businesses (particularly Women-Owned Businesses) who want to create sustainable and powerful differentiation must focus on branding. It’s just that simple. In most cases, branding for both femmepreneurships (women-owned businesses) and smaller enterprises is an afterthought. The primary focus is on marketing (pushing content out) while focusing on features and benefits. Consider implementing the aforementioned branding hacks (Purpose + Prevision) as a means of strengthening your brand infrastructure and achieving powerful differentiation.


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