Managing your Brand Reputation
Branding is the new buzzword. Everybody is talking about it, many write about it and few know it indepth. You can look at your brand from a developmental point of view. You will find the relevant elements in the self branding model developed by Dr. Petra Wüst1. This is a complex task which can take quite some time and often works best with the help of the expert herself.
When it comes to promoting your brand, it should be known to a wider public not only inside your organization. (Dorie Clark2)
As people progress in their career, all too often they tend to forget one of the most important aspects of branding which is managing your brand and in particular managing your online and offline reputation which can depend on many factors.
One of the most important aspects is to decide what and how much you disclose of your private life in times when private and office life tend to melt together. Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it. You decide how much you disclose and how you position yourself with regard to your private life.
During my decades in the coporate trenches, I have observed some of the most hair-raising and outrageous stories in that respect. How damaging your emotional and romantic behaviour can be if you hold a leadership position was demonstrated by the Bill Clinton’s intern story. Affairs, extramarital relationships, cheating on your husband or wife as well as business irregularities and dishonest behaviour surface particularly fast in our times of the fast internet: A lie can travel halfway around the globe while truth is still putting on its shoes. Also do not forget that an affair or a business misconduct can be set up to trap you in order to damage your reputation and remove you from your post or kill an important project or enterprise.
You may be as tolerant and as openminded as you like, these points do not contribute to the strength of your leadership. It is just not worth it to lose your credibility because of an affair with a member of your company, because of dishonest business behaviour or even because of a case of corruption like employing staff or your best buddies wife’s consulting company without respecting the rules for public procurement. Say nothing if you have nothing positive to say, like your partner is super helpful when it comes to task sharing in your family, or he or she has won the Wimbledon tennis championship. If a member of your family is unfaithful, has a substance abuse, a mental or a behavioural problem is private and should be addressed swiftly.
Your understanding of your 3company culture, your vision and leadership, your workplace environment play a major role. In a toxic culture you as a leader will be expected to do something about it, to address mobbing, 4cancel culture or discrimination, injustice. You are responsible for the behaviour of your staff, of the way in which communication, actions, processes and projects are handled.
As a leader, you are always in public, always in service, even on week-ends and during your holidays and yes, also after retirement. You cannot afford to have different images in public and in private. Don’t think you can relax your brand when you are off duty, or rather, when you think that you are off duty. You never are. Your complete behaviour, whether social, leadershipwise or financial will be under public scrutiny at all times. Someone will always be watching. However, this does not mean you have to be a boring old fogey. It just means to be in control at all times. You can be funny with a tremendous sense of humor, but never at the expense of other people. You can relax and enjoy an office party, but never have “one over the eight”. You can have lively discussions about all aspects of live, but never about your own. Business, psychology and sociology literature is full of interesting stories which you can use to underline your line of thinking and your concept of leadership.
Never let your hair down with your employees or with your peers. If you need someone to talk to, see your therapist or your coach. They are paid to listen and to keep silent.
1Dr. Petra Wüst, wuest-consulting.ch/self-branding/self-branding-model-(sbm)®.html: Werden Sie einzigartig mit System, Profil macht Karriere, Orell Füssli, 2010
2Dorie Clark, How Women Can Develop — and Promote — Their Personal Brand
In Harvard Business Review March 02, 2018
3Siobhán (Shiv-awn) McHale: The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change, Harper Collins Leadership · 1. Okt. 20194Alan Dershowitz, Cancel Culture: The Latest Attack on Free Speech and Due Process, 2020