If you don’t have a clear, well-communicated leadership brand, your colleagues might overlook your capabilities, value, and contributions. You may end up working in a vacuum, unseen and unheard by your boss, key stakeholders, and even your peers. Without a clear leadership brand, promotions and interesting assignments are likely to pass you by. You could even end up derailing your career.
Don’t panic if your leadership brand isn’t on track — there are plenty of things you can do to show it some love. But even if you’re already taking steps to nurture your desired leadership brand, it’s important to be mindful of these 3 telltale signs that it isn’t working yet.
1. You blend into the background
People at work like you and you complete all of your assignments on time. You’re a team player and you have a positive attitude. But nobody seems to be paying attention.
For some reason you keep receiving tasks that don’t interest you, while more engaging projects are continually being assigned to your colleagues. Nobody seeks your input on strategic initiatives, in goal-setting meetings, or brainstorming sessions. What’s more, you might be getting overlooked for promotions.
If nobody is asking you to join their team, task force, or initiatives, and if there doesn’t seem to be any opportunity to work on interesting projects or tasks happening at your workplace, there’s a good chance you’re blending into the background. It’s possible that some colleagues negatively view elements of your brand, but it’s also feasible that people don’t see your leadership brand aligning with the types of opportunities you desire.
This may be because you have a default leadership brand – the way people see you from their interactions or even non-interactions with you. Perhaps you have not spent enough time consciously developing an aspirational one and aligning that with the tasks you take on, how you take them on, and in particular how you interact with others.
Part of tending to your leadership brand is a constant process of evaluation. That means conducting self-evaluations, asking yourself questions such as, “What am I known for? and “Do my values still reflect who I am, and am I living those values?” It also means doing an audit of your online image — this is often the first thing someone sees, and if your presence on sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn doesn’t match your desired brand, you could be in trouble.
Taking care of your leadership brand also requires incorporating feedback from others, whether it’s your boss, friends, significant other, or colleagues. Does what they say about how others view you align with your desired projection? If you have a trusted advisor, ask their opinion on what you can do more of, less of, or start doing.
Gaps between our aspirational selves and our current states are to be expected, and gives us something to strive towards. But if the gulf is too wide or there’s a clash, your leadership brand isn’t working.
3. Your brand is inauthentic
If you’re trying to be someone that you aren’t people will see through it. It might not happen immediately, but if you aren’t being true to yourself and your values, your leadership brand is bound to crumble.
If you’ve figured out that your leadership brand isn’t working for you and you try to change it too rapidly, the shift will appear disingenuous. Colleagues will view radical changes with suspicion, and for good reason, because authentic change is rarely dramatic.
When your actions and thoughts aren’t congruent, or if you aren’t managing your leadership brand and it doesn’t represent your true self, you’re bound for trouble. It’s possible that what you stand for isn’t valued in your organization and that you fear conflict if you presented a more authentic representation of yourself. If that’s the case, you need to find another workplace.
Does one or more of these 3 signs your leadership brand isn’t working sounds all too familiar? Don’t despair. You’re already thinking about how to enhance and align your leadership brand, which is a step that many people never take. Go a step further and start incorporating practices that will nurture the leadership brand you want. It’s not too late, and the payoff will be worth it.