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The Importance of Knowing Your Brand at the Core.

apple coreThere’s no secret that your Personal Brand is the strongest currency you have to deal with. Full stop. And yet this can be one of the biggest casualties of busy. Your Personal Brand is all about how others perceive you and this is by how you position yourself, your actions, words, non actions and the list goes on. It’s definitely something we need to dedicate time to.

Glenn McCluskey, Director, GDM Management Consulting, is a change management and business transformation consultant who has worked across many sectors, including telecommunications, transport, logistics and airlines. He is a dynamic leader and a mentor to others. Glenn is passionate about the power of Personal Branding and has built a strong brand for himself. He encourages other leaders to do the same, especially emerging leaders. He sees this as the foundation to being relevant and being able to lead with influence. I was privileged to interview him for my book Busy? and share some of his thoughts here for you.

What would you say you strive for in your brand?

I am very passionate about the positive impact I can have on people, that in turn has a constructive impact on the business. It’s important to me that I do meaningful work. For me that’s implementing change. This may be structural or procedural, changing culture for the better and also mentoring the team.

To do this successfully there is one key fundamental I operate from: a basic respect for everyone at every level. My father had a great saying: ‘No one is better than anyone else. We’ve just got different roles to play.’ I believe in this.

For example, I had to make an incredibly hard call to retrench two young men who were using drugs at work. They were a danger to themselves and others. It was a very sensitive situation because their fathers also worked in the company.

On both occasions, a couple of days after the men were asked to leave, I made the effort to speak with their fathers. I asked how they were, then enquired about the welfare of their sons. Each handled it differently. One was accepting and understood the situation. The other was very emotional. I invited him to sit and talk with me. He went through a range of emotions: anger, sadness, disappointment, etc… and I reinforced to him that I had the all the time he needed to talk through his emotions. It was intense.

A couple of days later he came to me and shook my hand. He thanked me for caring about his son and for allowing him to ‘get it out of his system’, as he had no other environment where he could do that. The end result was mutual respect. That is what I give and that is what I am hoping to get back.

I’m a big believer in what you give, you get back.

Which is why my brand is based on integrity and respect.

How do you ensure you stay true to your brand?

There have been situations where my integrity has been questioned and that is where I become fiercely protective of my brand. Integrity is something I will never, ever compromise, so when this is questioned or doubted by others I will defend both my brand and integrity.

I have been so consistent over so many years with my brand that when I do ‘fight back’ I am supported by those who know me and what I stand for. That is the power of a strong brand. It’s your reputation and if you’ve done the work to make it strong it will serve you well.

Any tips to ensure your brand stays relevant?

Social media raises concerns for brand preservation. There are now various platforms enabling people to ‘see you’. People will brand you based on what they see before they even meet you. We now have to be very protective of what they see. It’s similar to sending an email. I always advise my mentees to be very careful when sending emails because as soon as they press send, control is lost. You don’t know where that email is going to end up. Equally important is whom you are connected to. People have access to your connections, especially via LinkedIn, and will form an opinion of you based on who you’re connected to.

 When I was with Motorola we embraced the principles of Six Sigma Quality, a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. Many large manufacturing companies adopt this program, such as GE. Part of the foundations of the program are to ensure you spend a minimum of 40% of your time planning an initiative – this would then be returned to you five fold in the end product.

You can apply this to Brand also. When you get off on the wrong foot with your brand and people perceive you in the wrong way, it can take a long time to recover. So it is definitely worth investing time in your brand and being conscious of your actions because people do form opinions very quickly. You need to ask yourself, ‘What is the impact of my behaviour or actions?’