Your personal brand is like your reputation – it’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room. But what if you are never ‘in the room’ and people don’t talk about you because they don’t know you exist? How do you raise your reputation and get noticed regardless, and importantly, how do you do it and keep your boss on side?
I‘ve been lucky enough to have a fantastic boss who really elevated the reputation and profile of those working for her at every opportunity. Top talent flocked to her, executives rated her highly, and her team outperformed everyone else.
I’ve also had a boss who claimed credit for everything his team was doing and treated us rather like mushrooms – didn’t let us see the light of day and never took anyone along to his executive meetings. Needless to say, his top talent didn’t stay long. Sound familiar?
So how do you encourage your boss to be more like example number one and less like example number two? Here are seven ways to get your boss to help build your brand.
- Be clear on what you want to build it for. As Simon Sinek says, start with your WHY. If it’s just about you, they may not buy into it. If it’s about elevating the reputation of their team and taking some workload off their shoulders by being an alternative go-to person on some topics, they are more likely to agree.
- Actually ask for their help. I can already hear you thinking a great manager shouldn’t need to be asked – but it’s not actually THEIR job to promote YOU – it’s yours and one of the biggest mistakes that most people make is they don’t ask for help.
- Promote their brand too. If you look good, they look good. Robert Cialdini talks about the law of reciprocity in his famous books about influence – which essentially means if it makes them feel like they owe you a favour, all the better.
- Don’t compete with their own brand – rather, position your own as complimentary to theirs. Basking in the reflected glory of a direct report does not hurt a leader one jot. Anyone paying attention will assume part of your success is down to their leadership – so don’t correct anyone who assumes that, and always make it clear who you work with.
- This will help you to promote your brand with a distinctive ‘WE’ rather than ‘ME’ flavour – which will mark you out as respectful, inclusive and a team player. Executives like that – remember, they are bosses too, so someone that threatens their own leader may also threaten their sense of status quo as well.
- Encourage your leader to promote the team, you and themselves more as well. BoldHR’s research shows that B-Suite Leaders (experienced midlevel managers) underperform in this area to the detriment of their teams and their own careers. Two lights shine brighter than one AND you’re helping them to commit to increasing their own visibility at the same time.
- Present them with ideas to make promotion easier, rather than leave it up to them. Here’s a list of suggestions that they can simply say yes to, which increases the chance that they will support you:
- MC at townhalls or host cross-functional events.
- Develop a showcase for key stakeholders to walk them through where your team is up to with key deliverables.
- Lead the presentation to the executive next time, with them in support.
- Take the opportunity to act on their behalf when they are on holiday or on projects
- Offer to chair meetings on their behalf, as their delegate. This not only frees up their time, but it positions you as a person of trust and expertise in front of others in the meeting.
- Offer to pull together the research for their next report, which will mean interviewing a range of stakeholders that you may not normally get exposure to.
- Comment intelligently and constructively on intranet announcements or discussion threads or ask questions in townhalls.
For many people self-promotion makes you shudder. Having a partner to promote you in return for you promoting them is a hundred times easier, more natural and more effective. Engaging your boss in self-promotion can be surprisingly easy and incredibly effective – for both of you.
Written by Rebecca Houghton.
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