I was recently in a meeting with a woman and a team of people that reported to her.  When she left the room, the team began to talk about their interaction with her.

“She likes to hear herself talk,” was one of the comments, followed by, “She has absolutely no skills with people—she acts like she thinks everyone is stupid.”

Whether we know it or like it, every behavior we exhibit and action we take leaves an imprint and impression on those around us.  When the behavior is consistent, it becomes part of what people think about when they think of you.  It becomes part of your personal “brand”.

Your reputation, characteristics, talents, abilities, appearance, interactions, and repeated actions create associations for people who interact with you.  Your brand is the image that is conjured up from others about what to expect from you, and what you are known for.  When you are not in the room and people talk about you, what do they say?  What words do they use to describe you when your name comes up?

After taking a class on personal branding and discussions with a brand expert responsible for branding everything from TV stations to hotel chains, I am clear that every one of us can be more intentional about our own personal branding.  Whether we are aware of it or not, we all have a “brand”.  Yet many of us don’t know what it is and don’t realize the impact our day to day behaviors have on creating it.

Do you know what your brand is?  Is it consistent with what you want it to be?  Are you minimizing your potential impact by being unconscious about how you come across to others?  This “brand” concept follows you in every other area of your life.  You have a reputation created by the stories people carry about you in their heads based on their observation and experience.  Do you even know what those stories are?

For example, if the words “hurried and frazzled” or “arrogant and aloof” are part of your brand based on people’s daily experience of you, do those descriptors match who you want to be and what your intentions are?

Are your behaviors and actions aligned with what you espouse you value?

Maybe they are.

What I find is that most leaders I work with haven’t really ever taken the time to think about this concept at all, and spend most of their days reacting.

Here are three things to help you think more intentionally about your personal brand:

1.    Ask people to make a list of the words they would use to describe you.

Or better yet, have someone else go gather the words for you, as most people won’t be honest with you directly if they have something less than flattering to say.

2.    Identify five to ten things that are most important to you

By things I don’t mean material things, but rather things that are more intangible things you value, like meaningful relationships, health, honesty, intelligence, etc. etc.

3.    Identify three things that you are passionate and excited about doing

By this I mean three things that get you so excited and jazzed about doing that time flies when you are doing them.  They could be coaching sports, playing a musical instrument, teaching others, helping people, learning, playing sports, etc. etc.  You know what they are for you.

Take a look at the list and ask yourself these questions:

Are the descriptors people use to describe you in alignment with your strengths and the behaviors you want to be exhibiting?

Are your daily actions consistently aligned with what you say is important to you?

Are you regularly doing things that you are passionate about and inspire you?

Do you go through your day “reacting to” what is in front of you, or intentionally “creating from” what is in front of you?

What do you want to stand for and be known for?

Who are you at your best and who do you want to be?

Your personal brand is in your hands. Create an intention about what you want it to be and take conscious actions to consistently adjust your behaviors to make sure they match that intention.