The trap was set years ago. You started this business and worked your behind off to make it a success. Even in the early days you had the vision of what was possible if all the stars aligned. You touched everything, did everything and more. As you grew your days got longer, time off diminished, vacations were rare. You were the poster child for the hands on owner. You had fallen into the trap .
The question is whether or not you are still in the trap. If that is still your way to operate you are hurting your business. Okay, I can hear you…..”It is my job to watch everything.” There is a grain of truth in that thinking but where you go wrong is thatyouru company really doesn’t need you to micro manage it. Your company needs you to chart the course to the future and grow so there are new opportunities not only for the business but for the long suffering employees that got you there.
Every successful company reaches a stage where it functions very well whether or not the CEO is in his office. Once that happens the CEO role has changed dramatically and wise executives identify the new dynamic.
When that happens CEOs should understand that their personal brand is just as important as the one the company has developed over the years. CEOs that get it will work just as hard to create a personal brand around their experience, expertise, management style and vision. Of equal importance when talking about the personal branding of a CEO it should be considered that the efforts are not about the individual but about how the executive and the company align.
So, what does branding a CEO or any C level executive mean? It is the process that shines a light on the individual. Most successful executives have great stories to tell. What is in there past that has enabled them to achieve so much, what are their core beliefs, what type of life do they lead outside of work, how do they get involved with the community and serve others? Each facet paints a mosaic of the person, but also speaks volumes of how that is important to the company as a living entity.
Once their companies have been put on a steady course the CEO becomes the face of the business. Exposing the face of the company to the important situations that validate the expertise the leader commands becomes a critical piece in any corporate effort to grow.
Think of a leader like Michael Dowling the CEO of Northwell Health. Mr. Dowling does not sit in his office all day pouring over spreadsheets or analyzing different metrics. No, he is the prime spokesman for the huge organization. He speaks to many different audiences of the corporate culture, the devotion to patient service, the internal energy, the industry trends that he is facing, the science his company is bringing to improving health care. It is hard to resist the power of his personal brand and by extension that of Northwell. Similarly Stanley Bergman of Henry Schein the global company leading the manufacturing and distribution of health care supplies and accessories around the world. Stanley is more likely to be speaking at an international conference, being interviewed by major publications and broadcast about what is going on in his industry and how his company is addressing the needs of the market. Stanley has a style that is his own, but both he and Mr. Dowling excel at preaching their brands.
Granted those are giants of commerce but they should be studied and emulated in terms of their personal brand. Both run multi-billion dollar enterprises and are of course the ones who have set the course of those companies, but because they have worked at spreading the word they have become the face of the brands. All CEOs should pay attention and follow their example.
The size of a company is irrelevant when the CEO steps out into the world. The combination of the CEO brand and the company success are attractive and worthy of recognition. Recognition equals more opportunities to grow.
Exiting the cocoon that is your office can be a challenge for some. Personal branding will require thought about where your presence will be the most effective. Branding is not about being everywhere all the time just to be noticed. The where and how are just as important as the why the CEO needs to leave the office. Important networking situations should be vetted as to who else will be in the room and what benefit could your company experience. Taking a page from the marketing playbook CEO should spend their time being involved where people would care about what they have to say and the potential to advance the growth of the company,
Not every CEO is comfortable being in front of strangers and to them, public speaking can be a scary proposition. However, in reality, if they have run meetings they have done plenty of public speaking. Seeking out opportunities to tell the company and personal stories are important avenues to expose the brand more broadly. Participation in panel discussions, presenting expert seminars, writing articles, being interviewed by media are all excellent vehicles to become recognized as a person of skill, talent, and expertise.
Social media has opened up additional channels for branding. Article writing and blogging by a CEO are helpful in becoming a subject matter expert and can capture the attention of media. It also allows, quite handily the ability to create followers and at the same time tap into their networks when they share content. Producing short videos for online use cannot be stressed enough due to today’s visual centered Internet platforms.
Many CEOs like the notoriety and attention and that is okay. If it helps the company by spreading the word there is no harm and it really is a by-product of a branding effort that has been very successful.
Greg Demetriou is the President and CEO of Lorraine Gregory Communications and the founder of the Ask A CEO Interview Series at GregsCornerOffice. He is an award winning entrepreneur, author, mentor, advocate for businesses and charities.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org