by Gail Romero
What if the world could assess your skills and expertise based only on a simple graphic or icon? When you see [ATT logo] you know the intrinsic value proposition, products, services, and impact. What if that were you? What if people could understand your global essence through Twitter?
That is the crux of what it requires today to build a personal brand identity that stands out. To be clearly above the rest, the dramatic differentiator is your global intention. Consider this, though: how do you prove it? I would like to suggest you can demonstrate [your intention] through active learning, practice, and sharing what you know. Mentoring has been proven to be one of the best ways to show the world how you hone and integrate your skills and attributes into your world… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
At this point, you may ask yourself, am I a brand? The answer is Yes and No. You are an individual, not a company or a product. You are not repeatable, yet you may have similarities. To capture the interest of others, potential clients, business partners, future employers, or a global audience as an emerging or emerged expert, you do have to secure the position. To break through, you need to make an indelible impression (synonym to brand) on your intended audience. There are numerous ways to build your brand. Simply Google “build your personal brand,” and there are over 500 experts—bloggers, journalists, coaches, branding experts, and marketers with dozens of great ideas. To make it easy, simply follow their suggestions to build your brand and voila—you have it.
Ah, but wait. Is it truly differentiating you from the global masses? Remember, the world is so much smaller than it used to be. Does it accurately identify you as the true expert in your field just because you say so or because you have demonstrated it? After reviewing hundreds of sites (yes, that’s why I know there are over 500 “experts” out there when you Google the subject), I found several that really hit home with me. Everything from the strategy that you need to build your own brand, which entails creating an original visual identity AND verbal identity, to the five easy steps, or seven, or ten that you need to follow to get known. They all have seriously good content, information, and features that can help.
A Step Further…
Sure, we need to have a strategy—which is the tactical foundation, pulling all of your planning for each visual and verbal expression of your personal brand. The strategy defines your deliverable. Who are you? What significance do you bring to the relationship? You formulate your strategy that differentiates and positions you against the rest of the field, or the world. Your strategy is based on your skills and personal attributes and qualities that you have honed and developed through experience and engagement. This is where you need to ask yourself two critical questions: “How will others perceive me as the expert in my areas of skill?” and “How can I prove that the attributes I profess are truly qualities that have been tested and practiced?”
But Wait, There’s More…
What if you could demonstrate to the world your continued development in your core skill areas, your personal attributes, and show your desire to be more than an educated professional but a life-long learner and teacher? In other words, you haven’t stopped honing your skills or developing your personal attributes because you chose to join in the growing network of mentoring.
This may come as a revelation to many of you, but we all go through a process of learning that encompasses three stages. First we are taught. Initially, it may be through an experience or class room or through individual educational goals, such as books, webinars, or certifications. We take notes; we may even take tests to see if we retain the knowledge. It is not until we actually practice—not just writing the business plan but implementing it, not just understanding what a budget is and does but actually developing one and holding to it, not just saying “I have integrity” but practicing it—do we really incorporate the teaching. These activities are what help us assimilate the knowledge into our skill set and what hone our personal attributes, such as honesty, integrity, and agile thinking.
My favorite university “practice” when I am privileged enough to be a guest speaker or visiting professor is to propose the following scenario to help others understand the issue of practice and the importance for us all.
You go into a grocery store, knowing you have $50.00 in your account until payday. You complete your shopping, adding it all up in your head, and consider yourself lucky that you came in under budget. You determine that it must have been the in-store sales that helped you stay under, and you walk out with $9.50 in your pocket. As you are loading your supplies into the car, you realize that they failed to charge you for the bag of dog food on the bottom of the cart. What do you do? What if it were only a $2.00 item? What if you were in charge of a $350,000,000 budget and you found out you were undercharged on a contract by $1,750,000. What if it were only $600.00? What do you do? When you can actually not just say what you would do but also walk back into the store and connect with the store manager have you truly integrated ethics into your being. Practice!
So, What Makes a Good Mentor?
The following information came via courtesy of one of my online Google searches that we consistently use with all of our mentors. It succinctly covers some of the best characteristics of leadership that you can integrate into your core skills and personal attributes and is arguably a true representation of what it takes to be a strong leader.
- Active Listening.
Mentors listen well and demonstrate to their mentees that their concerns and issues have been heard and understood. This promotes confidence and builds trust, which is essential for any great mentoring relationship.
- Build Trust.
The more a mentee trusts you, the more committed he or she will be to the relationship. Be realistic and understand that trust develops over time through spending quality time together, respecting your mentee’s boundaries, following through on your promises.
- Identify Goals and Vision.
A good mentor will help the mentees identify their goals, what’s important to them, their strengths, and development needs.
Effective mentors encourage their mentees. It is as simple as complimenting your mentees on their accomplishments and positive traits, and commending them in front of others. Give them confidence to move forward despite their fears and doubts.
- Informal Teaching.
As a mentor, you may need to do some informal teaching, so keep your eye out for teachable moments. Help your mentees find necessary resources and contacts. If appropriate, teach them new skills and help them acquire knowledge, and model effective behavior.
- Inspire Greatness.
Do inspiring things yourself and model greatness; be a role model. Set a great example and help your mentees find other inspirational people and situations.
- Provide Developmental Feedback.
If you observe your mentee making mistakes, you should be direct with him or her and provide corrective feedback. Indicate some better ways to do something or how to act. Offer useful suggestions on what the mentee can do the next time.
- Act as a Connector.
Try to provide visibility for your mentee and their strengths. If possible, open doors for them to meet new people and take on challenging assignments. Make sure their abilities and strengths are noticed by others.
Don’t be too proud to learn from the protégé’s questions and experiences. The best mentoring is a two-way relationship in which people with various experiences, cultures, and places in life learn from one another. One of the best ways to gain a global mindset is through learning, and a global mindset is one of the top-rated skills looked for from leaders in this global economy.
- Build Your Brand.
Walk the talk and show your mentees the importance of working ON their careers and personal brands, and not just IN their careers. Encourage them to get 360 degree feedback, engage in self-reflection, and determine what makes them unique, compelling, and different. Encourage your mentees to engage in building networks, connections, and impact through groups and social networks, such as LinkedIn, and help them become the emerging “expert” in their fields.
You and Your World
It may seem a bit sweeping to imply that your global outlook on the world can create a prodigious personal brand, but in the real world, it is precisely your attitude that has guided you to your profession and has helped you develop your talents, skills, and attributes. It is how you learn, practice, and teach those skills as a mentor and leader that will make a difference in the world—not just your brand.
In a 2012 audit of some of the Fortune 500 companies, I found that there were five key personal attributes that consistently were brought up in conversation and responded to as critical for leadership development and positioning. I have incorporated them into a process that I call GLEAN ™. They are not new, and I did not invent them, but they have been brought together into a concise process that helps leaders understand how they relate to their leadership skills, their leadership brand, and their leadership success. Global Mindset, Leadership Quotient, Ethics, Agility Thinking, and Negotiation and Communications Skills in the Virtual World are all part of GLEAN ™.
As a mentor, I integrate them into my own mentoring style and share them with my mentees wherever applicable. As a professional in the global economics of business education, mentoring, and futurist learning, I integrate these skills into our own company as a critical component of leadership success.
About the Author: Gail Romero
|Gail Romero has worked for numerous organizations throughout the world to build successful missions and enhance visions with social, political and economic impact. As the founder and CEO for Collective Changes, she provides the #1 technology platform to business mentors for women’s SMEs in developing nations in conjunction with IBM Tool Kit, Chronus Mentor Software and their latest partner Grameen Financial Services. Gail continues to drive support for empowering women in business and global recognition of the economic engine that women can provide to their nations. As an author, opinion writer and often quoted media analyst she has been looked to as a “Shesource” for commentary by Financial Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, US News and World Report, CBS Radio, EU Media outlets, Media Online, Online MBA and CNN. Gail is also Senior Advisor for MacKenzie-Romero Consulting, Executive Producer for Rainmakers TV and carried the title of Ambassador – Global Health for the American Cancer Society until August of 2011. Gail has spent the last two decades creating and directing the development and integration of innovative economic ideas and campaigns and strategic alliances with various policy makers, educational communities, associations, media, academics, politicians, community leaders, foundations and corporations to raise resources, awareness and support for numerous organizations with a passion to advance women in leadership throughout the world.Ms. Romero has been nominated for the TED Prize, Schwab Fellow and most recently Collective Changes has reached the quarter-finals for the Social Venture Partners Seattle “Fast Pitch”. Romero currently serves as the Vice-Chair of Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics, Advisory Council for iLEAP Fellows, past advisory board for Global Give Back Circle and is a judge for the Global Social Entrepreneurs Competition at the University of Washington and has had numerous corporate board positions for start-up companies. She has served as a visiting professor and international speaker and presenter on social justice, women’s issues and education. She is a Paul Harris Fellow, Seattle University Alumni member and is a graduate of Northpark University’s Graduate School of Nonprofit Management and Certification and University of Wisconsin’s Madison School of Business, Madison Institute- AHP program. She received her CFRE confirmation in 2005. Romero is a recent TED Prize nominee for her work to leverage technology to grow women’s business skills and has been endorsed by Helene Gayle of CARE, former Ambassador for Women and Girls Melanne Verveer and Leo Hindery Jr., retired CEO of AT&T Broadband along with numerous other corporate leaders from Fortune 500 companies. Most recent books include MBA Women’s Guide to Success and coming out in August – Women’s Guide to Personal Presence both available at Barnes and Nobel and Amazon. The Collective Changes first annual Author’s Comment’s will be out this winter, this year focusing on the importance of mentoring to grow women into business and leadership. Collective Changes youtube channel carries numerous interviews of world leaders on the importance of mentoring to grow business and leadership skills.|