Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Brand YOU

In a conversation, when you happen to talk about your boss, what are the adjectives that come to your mind? Arrogant? Ruthless? Caring? Sensitive? Well, the responses may vary from person to person, depending on the relationship that one shares with his/her dearest reporting authority. But, today things have changed.

With the scarcity of relevant talent in the market, the super bosses from across industries are taking the initiative to alter that perception. After having done with branding your organisation as an ideal employer, chief executives and corporate gurus have realised that they need to pay close attention to how employees perceive them and what are the attributes that they associate with them.

“It’s important to brand oneself to create an identity in the corporate world. The corporate market, just as product markets is filled with many ‘me-too’ quality brands. And just as consumers react from the heart, so do fellow colleagues, subordinates and bosses- they too are human and there is always a dimension beyond performance that comes into play. So branding in the corporate scenario helps the individual to stand out in his/her own way. However, you must remember that you don’t really have to cultivate a brand.

"Be yourself. Don’t follow the book - otherwise you will always look like any other brand," explains Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman & National Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather Limited.

Can you see me? Visibility is another critical aspect of individual branding. When you’re the chief or the organisational representative, everything that you say or do could have larger implications. And the process of building one’s individual brand requires one to pay close attention to that.

“There is merit in creating visibility for oneself. I don’t keep a conscious check on where I am seen or with whom but I am conscious of where I am and what I say/do there because, it does have an impact on the audience’s view of me and the organisation I represent. In fact for me, the bigger thing to be sensitive about is to remember that I am not only Piyush Pandey-the individual, but I also represent the Ogilvy Group as its executive chairman,” believes Pandey.

One’s individual brand depends largely upon the nature of the person in question. If the person is charismatic and flamboyant, he/she should be able to put across a good enough personal brand.

“I know of some people in our business who are very good at creating and maintaining a well crafted public persona and in my belief, some of what they do borders on over-promoting oneself, perhaps at the cost of workplace productivity. It also depends a lot on your personal brand. In general, extrovert and socially active people manage their visibility better than ‘private’ people,” explains Kiran.

Making a point often, the way you extend minor courtesies (reply to emails/text messages etc.) or even the way you interact with colleagues could reflect your own personality and all this adds up to your individual brand. And carving a pleasant, helpful and approachable personality would require you to act accordingly.

“The way our peers, whether colleagues or friends, perceive us has a strong bearing on how productive we are in a team. If majority of my peers perceive me as a pain in the hind quarters, they will naturally get non co-operative towards me, pulling down not just my performance, but the whole team’s,” explains Ravi Kiran, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group - South Asia.

Kiran further explains, “I believe my team members think of me as a people-sensitive, future focused, empowering, democratic, idea-sensitive and no-nonsense person. My daily workplace actions has contributed to creating this perception. I am an active participant in ideation sessions. Even outside formal sessions, I share my personal ideas quite freely with my team, and I do not encourage political behaviour. I have been very vocal within my organisation for the need to create a highly participative, rather than an autocratic workplace. I urge my colleagues through internal communication and at the time of evaluation, I tell them to focus on their own and their subordinates’ inherent talent rather than weaknesses.” Altering the way people perceive you can be a challenging task. And the only way out is to work towards building your brand through your actions and deeds that need to reflect what you stand for.

“I think I am seen as obviously creative, certainly one who likes ‘playing off the front foot’- that’s my principle in life; as one who is accessible and approachable; who takes his job seriously, but not oneself seriously. And yes, I’d like to be seen as an optimist who believes failure is okay and big postmortems are a waste of time. The only steps I take are to ensure that what I say and do remain true to this,” concludes Pandey.

Source: The Economic Times


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