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Personal branding communicates who you are to not only those around you, but also to those you wish to lead and inspire. Establishing a solid executive brand is one of the best ways you can stand out both internally and externally, building trust and credibility. But, once your brand is determined, how can you leverage it both inside and outside of the security department for maximum effect?

To learn more, the ASIS Blog spoke with Lida Citroën, Executive Branding and Reputation Management Expert, Lida360, who will present on this topic as part of the CSO Center Leadership Series on 10 May 2022.

What are the biggest mistake executives make when it comes to their personal brand and reputation?

Let’s face it, most people – executives included – don’t wake up in the morning thinking about their personal brand. They’re focused on doing work, getting ahead and producing results. What they fail to realize, often, is that their brand, and reputation, are critical ingredients to their ability to build and maintain success. 

Your personal brand is the way others perceive you, how they feel about you and whether they deem you valuable or not. Perception, as uncomfortable a topic as it is, is a reality: The way someone views you, sees you and feels about you directly influences their desire to want to work with you, trust you, vouch for you… or not.

Three big mistakes executives often make are:

  1. Letting others define them. If everyone has a reputation – whether intentionally designed or not – and perception of you is how someone will decide opportunities you attract, then you’re giving away a lot of personal and professional power to let others define you as they will. We know that perception is often wrong – it can be formed off incomplete or false information, stereotypes or past experiences. When an executive neglects to drive their reputation strategically and leaves it to chance that they’ll be seen as valuable, they’ve given away their power.
  2. Not managing their reputation online. Cancel culture, as it’s become known, is a real threat to executive leaders in all industries, in all countries. Social media makes it too easy today for many leaders to casually or invertedly share messages or images that are deemed inappropriate, offensive or off-putting to their core audiences. Once it’s online, it’s out there and very hard to pull back. Without thinking about it, many executives have watched their careers come into question because of an ill-fated Tweet.
  3. Neglecting to articulate their values. Personal brands are rooted in credibility to thrive and sustain. Without rooting yourself in your values, your actions can be seen as random, or disconnected from a greater value. My formula for building credibility is values + actions = credibility. For others to trust you they need to see you walking the talk and acting consistently. Strive for consistency, not perfection.

What are some quick tips you would give to global security management professionals to strengthen their personal brand and reputation within their organization?

1. Understand your reputation today. For anyone looking to be taken seriously, grow their value and career, or navigate risk on the job, it’s important to understand how others perceive you today. Consider your primary audiences – the decision makers who can grow your career or restrain you. How do they perceive you and your value to the company?

Feedback, formal or informal, is a great way to capture insights and perception. You could ask colleagues or associates questions about your reputation and brand such as, What are three words you’d use to describe me? For what would you refer me? What makes me memorable? The answers to these questions help you understand your current reputation and identify patterns or risks to how you’re viewed.

2. Define your ideal reputation. When you walk into the room, how would you like people to see you? Do you want to be seen as a thoughtful leader who makes others feel empowered? Do you want to be known for create dynamic teams that achieve more than was dreamed? Do you seek to be known as honest, caring, deliberate, important….?

Defining your ideal end state or desired reputation is how you clarify your legacy – your life. Your ideal reputation is the set of feelings you want the people you care about to feel about you and your value to the team/company/initiative/community. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want the people who knew you to remember about you and the difference you made?

3. Build your strategic network.Who you know can be more important than what you know. Your network is the people who’ll advocate, support, refer and defend you as you grow your reputation.

Do you know the right people? Are there people in your network who pose a risk to your reputation because of their public views and behavior? Evaluate the people you currently know, who needs to be excused from your network and the ones you should know to advance yourself.

How can the role of security management drive influence and impact within the c-suite?  

As a security professional, you are in the trust business. Trust, discretion, confidence and credibility are paramount to your ability to grow your career and represent the interests of those you serve. At all touchpoints of the experience of working alongside the c-suite, ensure you are demonstrating your value and trustworthiness.

Branding is focused on the why not the what and when security leaders clearly articulate their values – their why – for doing the work they are committed to, they can elevate their positioning with senior leadership. Too often professionals lead with what they know how to do, how they do their work and that’s not where their ultimate value lies. Who they are, why they are unique and valuable is where others learn to attribute value and credibility to their work.

What are three books (or articles) you would recommend security management professionals read if they wanted to further their understanding of personal branding and reputation?

  1. Control The Narrative: The Executive’s Guide to Building, Pivoting and Repairing Your Reputation
  2. Steps to Build Your Reputation Management Strategy
  3. How to Build and Repair Your Reputation