By: Brandon Maslan, Advisor and Executive Coach at Advancing Women Executives
When I was living in West Hollywood, I took a spin class (as one does when living there). And during that class the teacher yelled, “Uncomfortability is our friend, and pain is not.”
What’s true for spin is also true for your career.
One way to get ahead at work is to own your personal, authentic brand, even though doing so can be very uncomfortable.
A professional brand is a statement that reflects who you are personally as well as the value you provide in the workplace. The more distinctive and unique your statement is, the better. At Advancing Women Executives, we encourage leaders to develop aspirational brands that tell a powerful, authentic story. Where can you find good examples of professional brands? Check out the summary section of a LinkedIn page or a well written bio.
It starts with self-awareness
Being 100% yourself means choosing to be vulnerable. Showing people who you are can feel like a big risk. But you know what they say about big risks: They lead to big rewards.
I’ve coached hundreds of executives and trained thousands of Fortune 500 employees on how and why to own their authentic brand, and I can tell you with certainty that when someone owns who they are, they’re usually admired. And when they’re admired, their contributions are more often recognized.
It takes courage to identify, name and own what makes you unique. Self-awareness is never easy or terribly comfortable. It often means confronting qualities, habits or behaviors you’ve tried to ignore for years or accepting that parts of your identity you take pride in may not be your greatest strengths.
However, to own your authentic brand, you must be honest with yourself about who you are. It’s natural to try to fit into the mold we think our work, family and friends want us to. We’ve got to stop that.
Luckily, those who know you best can help you see who you truly are and all the best things you uniquely have to offer.
So how do you do this?
Let me introduce you to The Power of Three
Ask a family member, a colleague and a friend (three people who know you in different ways) these three questions:
- What is unique about me?
- What is my superpower?
- What do I do to help you and others?
Then see if there is a common thread between all the responses. That thread is YOU!
Yes, it’s that simple.
Next, compare the list of what makes you unique with your company’s values. Making these explicit connections will help you identify ways to advance your career.
What knowing your super power can do for you
A client of mine worked for more than a decade at a company doing exceptional work and never getting promoted.
I suggested he do this exercise. He asked his teenage daughter what makes him unique as a parent. Without missing a beat, her daughter said, “Your ability to put your children in danger.”
This was not off to a great start. However, the daughter continued, “What I mean is that when we went on that class ski trip and the blizzard hit the mountain and it was only my second day on skis, you told me there was no better time to learn how to ski. Sure, every other parent took their kid to safety, but we stayed on the mountain practicing and getting better. Then you got me down safely. Even though I hated you that day, I’m the best skier of all my friends and so grateful for the experience. That’s who you are: the person who, when the storm hits, will push through, make the best of the situation and eventually get everyone to safety.”
For a decade, nothing had worked for my client come promotion time. But with this new insight, he told his boss, “In our industry, storms always hit. For every storm and change that’s come, I’ve not only gotten us through it, but have made our organization better in the process. You should promote me because I am the person who will get us to safety and be innovative when the next big storm hits.”
I’m happy to report that this person received that promotion and is on track for another big one.
As I close out, I want to impart that there is no right or wrong way to do this. There is only your way.
At Advancing Women Executives, we’ve seen hundreds of leaders across the country, at all levels and in all functions, thrive by owning their strengths, finding support in the collective and living their authentic leadership style.
Once you’ve determined what your superpowers are, take action and share them with your boss and colleagues around review time. It may just get you that promotion you deserve.
Brandon Maslan is an executive coach and corporate trainer and a member advisor at Advancing Women Executives.