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My family will tell you of a time, many years ago, when I spent an hour trying to choose between one pair of Nike trainers and another. An hour. I have no idea how they allowed me to go on that long but in the end I was very pleased with the ones that I chose. I suspect I would have been just as pleased had I chosen the other pair.
Since then I have got better (and faster) at making decisions, whether I am buying shoes or leading a team, which is good because making decisions is the fourth cornerstone of leadership. This is where the rubber hits the road (forgive the shoe-related pun), or as Clay Lowe says, “This is where leaders earn their money.”
We all know leaders need to make decisions but here are the challenges that Clay Lowe mentions:
– Make decisions that are fair, based on evidence and not your own agenda. This is difficult because we are human. We will naturally make decisions that further our careers or that are based on what we thought was the best way forward. Sometimes, as in the case of ‘The Apprentice’, we make decisions that leave us with the option of blaming someone else if everything goes wrong. People need to know that we are making decisions that are for the good of the team or the organisation.
– Weigh up the needs of the task, team and individuals. When these are in conflict, it will mean you need to make a tough decision to the benefit of one at the expense of the other. If the task is not urgent and an individual needs a holiday then allow them to have a day with their family. If on the other hand an individual isn’t pulling their weight then the needs of the team need to be made priority. And if you’ve been given a tight deadline by a major client then of course the completion of the task takes priority.
– Be creative in your decisions. Clay doesn’t mean be an unpredictable decision-maker because that will make for a very confused and frustrated team. Outstanding leaders, like General Grant at Vicksburg make decisions that are creative (read:risky). They are not shy of doing it differently, which will challenge them and their team and lead them on to greater things.
This is a real challenge to great leadership, but having the other three cornerstones in place will allow you to make decisions that lead to great successes for you, your team, company or family.
In the past we might have considered certain famous people, such as the Beckhams, as a brand. Not many of us ‘normal’ folk have a perfume or clothing range with our name attached. But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t a ‘brand’.
But before we delve any further, let’s get one thing straight – a logo is not a brand. I was with the ‘marketing director’ of a design company recently and even he kept using the two terms interchangeably. Wrong.
A logo is a symbol that an organisation uses to make it or a product recognisable. What you think when you see that logo is ‘brand’. For example, the infamous yellow arches over a McDonald’s ‘restaurant’ – same big yellow logo but to a child it might mean a happy meal (in the true sense of the word). To an adult it might mean unhealthy food and lousy service.
The brand perception is entirely different even though the logo is exactly the same.
When it comes to personal branding, your face is your logo. And what people think when they see that logo is your brand.
A company with a clear brand strategy is doing their best to be perceived in a particular and consistent way by all their stakeholders – internal, external and potential customers. It increases their value, ability to influence and protects against competition – all the things that a good personal brand strategy will also do.
In the next post we’ll look at a short video that presents a really useful way to think about personal branding and its benefits.