There are two common sense steps for developing and nurturing your personal brand.
- Figure out how you want people to think of you.
- Consistently and constantly act in a manner that will lead them to think of you that way.
While your brand should reflect you and your uniqueness, it has to be built on integrity.
According to Wikipedia, “Integrity is consistency of actions, values, methods, measures and principles.” Integrity and consistency are intertwined. People who are consistent in their actions are seen as people with a high degree of integrity.
Oprah says, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” This is true. If you practice situational ethics – doing the right thing only when you’re in the public eye — you aren’t really a person of high integrity, you’re just pretending to be one.
Besides, it’s hard to act one way in public, and another in private. So to be safe, resolve to act like Oprah. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do – not because you’ll get credit, or avoid getting into trouble.
John Maxwell is a well-known business author. One of his books sends the same message. It’s called, There’s No Such Thing As Business Ethics: There’s Only One Rule for Making Decisions. According to John, that rule is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, do the right thing.
There’s a practical side to this too. Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” In other words, if you’re always a person of high integrity, it’s easy to be a person of high integrity; there are no complicating factors – like remembering what you did or said in a given situation.
Polonius gave similar advice to Hamlet. “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the day the night, thou canst be false to no man.” Roy Blackman, my father in law, passed away a few years ago. This quote was his epitaph. It was on the program handed out at his funeral. Roy embodied it in how he lived his life. It was the only piece of advice he gave his grandson, Matt, as he went off to college.
Oprah, John Maxwell, Mark Twain and Shakespeare are all in agreement on one common sense piece of career advice. If you want to become known as a person of high integrity – and I believe integrity is the cornerstone of any personal brand – act as a person of high integrity all the time – not just when it suits you, or when someone might notice.
Here’s a story to illustrate this point. Cathy, my wife, was a flight attendant for 36 years. Seniority is a very important thing in the airline industry. It governs how you bid for trips, positions on the airplane and vacations – almost anything important to a flight attendant’s quality of work life.
Cathy was very active in her union. And seniority was one of the union’s most sacred principles. A few years before she retired, Cathy’s airline made a big push into the international market. International flights were plum assignments; they went to people with high seniority.
However, the airline realized that it would be to their advantage to have some flight attendants who spoke the language of the country to which they were flying on these international flights. Most flight attendants in her airline spoke English only. The airline proposed putting two “language speakers” on each international flight. Many people, including Cathy, were upset with this arrangement as they felt it violated the seniority concept.
Cathy used to fly from the US to London. One day I said to her, “This whole language speaker issue doesn’t really affect you. You fly to London; there are no language speakers on those flights. Why do you care so much?” She said, “I believe in the concept of seniority. It doesn’t matter if I’m affected by language speakers. It’s the principle of the thing.” That’s consistency – and integrity — in action.
On the other hand, there’s Tiger Woods. Tiger had one of the best personal brands in the world. He earned close to $100 million in 2009 on it. If you were following the news in late 2009 and early 2010 (how could you miss it?), you know that the Tiger brand is in serious jeopardy because of some of his indiscretions which have come to light.
Sadly for Tiger, his integrity is now in question – and that’s being kind. His wife has left him, taking the kids. Several sponsors have dropped him. And, his golf game is suffering. I’m not writing this post to pass judgment on Tiger – enough people have done that already. I am writing it however, to reinforce my point of building your personal brand on integrity.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Creating positive personal impact is one of the competencies all successful people possess. You create positive personal impact by developing and nurturing your unique personal brand, being impeccable in your presentation of self, and knowing and following the basic rules of etiquette. Your personal brand should be uniquely you, but it should be built on integrity. Follow the advice in Tweet 62 in Success Tweets. “Your personal brand should be uniquely you, but built on integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking.” As Tiger Woods’s case demonstrates, a lack of integrity can lead to serious consequences for a carefully crafted brand. Now, everyone is looking at Tiger and most people don’t like what they’re seeing. So take a lesson from Tiger – one he’s learning the hard way – build your personal brand on integrity.