Personal brand. Executive presence. These are more than business buzz phrases your executive needs to know. These are key concepts that impact how you are perceived as an administrative professional.
One of my favorite definitions of personal branding comes from the book Career Distinction by Arruda and Dixson:
“Personal branding is the most effective way to clarify and communicate what makes you different, special, and valuable to employer and customers – and use those qualities to guide your career. It’s about unearthing your unique attributes – your strengths, skills, values, and passions – and using them to stand out from your peers and competitors.”
There are a lot of things you can do to proactively craft and manage your personal brand. Ultimately, though, it’s about how others perceive you. It’s your reputation.
Executive presence is related but goes even deeper. Three important elements of executive presence include gravitas, communication skills, and appearance. A study from the Center for Talent Innovation noted gravitas carried the most weight and was composed of six core traits: exuding confidence, acting decisively, showing integrity, demonstrating emotional intelligence, burnishing reputation, and projecting vision. The authors of this report sum it up like this, “How you look, how you speak, and how you act turn out to be critical to your success, our report concludes, at every step in your career journey.”
Assessments like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DISC, StrengthsFinder, and others help you identify your work and communications styles and the strengths you bring to the workplace. It’s just as important to understand how others perceive your work and communication style so you can be proactive about managing your personal brand at the office. That’s why I love tools like Reach360 and the Fascination Advantage Report that help you become more aware of how the world sees you. They also provide valuable insight on where you are adding value on a daily basis.
The 360 Reach tool is a web-based personal brand survey. You can access the tool for free for 15 days, or they have a premium account with access for 45 days that includes a custom report and data analysis for $49.97. It’s a 360 review for your personal brand. You start by customizing the survey you will send out. Then you choose who you invite to the review process, but you typically get the best results and information by inviting a wide variety of people who know you well – friends, family, colleagues, networking contacts, employees, coworkers, executives, etc. You can track and monitor the survey responses using their online portal. Remember when you initiate a survey like this, you have to be open to honest and direct feedback about how others view you. The responses will help you assess where you may need to tweak aspects of your personal brand going forward. That’s a positive thing.
The Fascination Advantage® Assessment profile helps you discover how the world sees you through the science of fascination. The assessment costs $55. This tool uses a questionnaire format that you complete to generate the profile report. The report includes a welcome letter, an at-a-glance overview of your results, your Fascination archetype, your top five specialty adjectives, and your primary, secondary, and dormant communication style advantages. Using the materials in this report, you can easily create your own personal branding statements to positively reinforce your brand on your resume, business cards, social profiles, email signatures, and more!
Here are a few elements from my Fascination Advantage Report to give you a preview of how this tool can help you gain clarity around your personal brand, and how you add value in the workplace.
Your Primary Advantage: Power
YOUR PRIMARY PERSONALITY DESCRIPTORS:
- Enjoy leading projects and easily wins buy-in of teams
- Direct individuals and groups with confidence and success
- Set ambitious personal and professional goals
- Express opinions and makes complex decisions with unwavering conviction
- Confront potential problems or obstacles immediately and decisively
- Lead naturally
WHO YOU ARE:
HOW YOU ADD VALUE:
- You influence others with self-assured ideas and actions.
- You energetically tackle big goals, giving you the potential to motivate large groups.
- People instinctively look to you for cues of how to behave.
EXAMPLES OF LEADERS WHO USE POWER:
- Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Angela Merkel, Warren Buffet, Michael Bloomberg, Gloria Steinem, Mark Zuckerberg
HOW YOU USE POWER:
- First, recognize that your ability to fascinate is through your natural use of the POWER Advantage. As a POWER personality, you lead with authority. You ask direct questions, lean in, and take charge of the conversation. You’re comfortable being the one to make difficult decisions. You apply POWER to persuade, influence, attract and inspire everyone you encounter.
Secondary Advantage: Prestige
SECONDARY PERSONALITY DESCRIPTORS:
- Rapidly earn respect
- Focus on adding value through better execution
- Conscientious of the smallest details
- Motivated by a competitive spirit and determined outlook
- Expect highest quality deliverables from yourself and others
- Earn respect with higher standards
WHO YOU ARE:
HOW YOU ADD VALUE:
- People recognize you as an achiever and/or expert.
- You influence people through your high expectations of yourself and others.
- You constantly envision ways to improve and upgrade.
EXAMPLES OF LEADERS WHO USE PRESTIGE:
- Elon Musk, Audrey Hepburn, George Clooney, Vera Wang, James Bond, Gordon Ramsay
HOW YOU USE PRESTIGE:
- Your secondary PRESTIGE Advantage means that you naturally seek the next level of accomplishment. You are results-oriented and you set ambitious goals. You apply PRESTIGE to persuade, influence, attract and inspire everyone you encounter.
Your dormant advantage: Mystique
WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE A DORMANT MYSTIQUE ADVANTAGE:
- This is your most exhausting form of communication. It’s how you are least likely to impress others.
- Try to avoid situations that force you to communicate with your dormant Advantage, because this form of communication will cost you a disproportionate amount of energy and it’s unlikely to set you up for success.
- Situations that force you to use your dormant Advantage will act like quicksand. You’ll feel stuck, unable to move forward without using up all your energy.
- It’s important to recognize these types of interactions because they can prevent you from making progress and momentum.
WHY USING MYSTIQUE FEELS LIKE QUICKSAND
- You don’t hide your emotions or opinions. Some may even refer to you like an open book. You can be enthusiastic, even dramatic, at times. In business negotiations that require holding back information, you may tend to feel challenged, because containing how you feel typically is not a natural response for you.
- You persuade others by being straightforward and open, whereas MYSTIQUE personalities persuade by provoking questions without giving answers. Your approachability is what attracts others to you, while MYSTIQUE’s veil of secrecy is what attracts people to them.
- People can always know where they stand with you. Because you tend to have difficulty hiding how you feel, others can pick up on your attitude and mood.
- Once you know your personality’s dormant Advantage, you’ll understand why these tasks feel like struggling through quicksand, and how to avoid spending your energy on those traps.
I love assessment tools like this because they provide words and phrases to accurately describe who you are and how you add value in ways we struggle to find the words for on our own. These tools also help you find the words to describe why you really like some projects but detest others. They provide validation and support for feelings or haunches we can’t always verbalize accurately. Ultimately, they help you get very clear about who you are at your best and how that impacts those you interact with on a daily basis.
First impressions are made in a matter of seconds when you meet someone. Over time, the perceptions people have of how you communicate, work, and interact with them form the brand they associate with you when they see your email appear in their inbox, hear your name in a meeting, or walk up to your desk to have a conversation. If you want to build a strong and meaningful partnership with your executive, paying attention to your personal brand and executive presence is vital to your career success.
The following are some books and resources I recommend on personal branding and executive presence:
- Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist by Sally Hogshead
- Make a Name For Yourself: 8 Steps Every Woman Needs to Create a Personal Brand Strategy for Success by Robin Fisher Roffer
- Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand by William Arruda & Kirsten Dixson
- First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You by Ann Demaris and Valerie White
- You Are a Brand! by Catherine Kaputa
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.