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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

May 26, 2023


This week we explore why focusing on your identity is a better investment of time than focusing on your personal brand.



Welcome to episode 186 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we explore why focusing on your identity is a better investment of time than focusing on your personal brand.

With the proliferation of influencers and social media over the past decade, there has been an increased focus on building a personal brand. Well meaning organisations even run workshops helping people to carefully curate their LinkedIn image. On the surface this sounds like a good thing to focus on in the context of our leadership. Surely we want to be careful about how we present ourselves to the world? There are however some risks of treating yourself as if you were a company or a product. Who we are is much more than just how we want to be seen by others. And how others see us is likely to be more genuine if it’s grounded in our identity.

Our identity is who we are, not just our external persona. It includes what we value, our opinions, what’s important to us, and ultimately who we are.

Personal brand is how we want others to see us. It tends to be more carefully curated. There is a risk that our personal brand can become detached from our identity. This can lead us to effectively put a mask on as we interact with others. This doesn’t just require additional effort to maintain, it also can come across as disingenuous. People are very good at picking up when we are pretending to be something we’re not.

In contrast, identity is who I am, not just my external persona. When we focus on our identity, we are more grounded in who we are and what we stand for. This gives us a sense of purpose and direction. When we are clear on our identity, our personal brand flows naturally.

Here are three things you can consider this week if you want to explore your identity:

  1. Reflect on your values and beliefs. What is important to me? What motivates me?
  2. Look at your life experiences and how they have shaped who you are today. What have you learned from your successes and failures?
  3. Examine your relationships and the people who have influenced you. Your identity is often formed in reference to others.

So this week spend some time considering your identity. It’s a better investment than your personal brand. Have a great week.