Build Your Brand (Part 3)
Personality traits that build great brands...
by Anthony Kaul

Highly revered executives have a lot in common with each other. They share certain personality traits that are pre-requisites to climbing the higher rungs of the corporate ladder.

Our goal with this article is to point out 4 key traits that you must exhibit if you are to build a truly powerful brand that will unlock the doors of the executive suite. This is not meant to be a definitive list, but a primer to the foundational traits that others must perceive that you have.


This may seem like a no brainer, but you must exhibit loyalty to the corporation for which you work. I have personally worked with people that did nothing to hide the fact that they were always looking for greener pastures. One fellow in particular spent the majority of time at trade shows networking with the competition and badmouthing the company he worked for. The best way to exhibit loyalty is to keep your passive job seeking activities to yourself, and buy in to the prevailing corporate culture.

It is imperative that you do not participate or condone the "pity parties" that happen at the water cooler. The most demonstrable action you can take to exhibit loyalty is to speak up about it when confronted with the disloyalty of others. This does not mean acting like a corporate lickspittle, all companies are flawed, the difference between you and the disloyal sniveler is that you want to be part of the solution. Champion your company as you would your spouse or partner, accept your company's faults and make an earnest effort to aid in solutions.

Absolute Honesty

Dishonesty is a career killer. Not just the obvious hand in the cash register type, but the whole concept of your word and your integrity is everything. The higher up the corporate ranks you climb, the more scrutiny you will be subjected to. The smallest acts of dishonesty will eventually rear their ugly heads and there is nothing more toxic to your personal brand than being perceived as dishonest.

Little white lies are everywhere in corporate Canada. Middle management is famous for saying "I do not know anything" to there subordinates rather than "I am not at liberty to discuss it." People pilfer stationary, thinking that no one will notice, and consequently erode the foundations of their personal brand before it is even established. Don't be caught stealing your companies time. If you are the hardest working minion in your division, I guarantee that the one time you take a breather to play solitaire, your boss will come trolling through your department.


Another pillar of your brand will be to take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your subordinates. If you accept responsibility when things go wrong you are much more likely to be seen responsible for the times when things go well. I have seen managers and executives go to ridiculous extremes to distance themselves from some error or lapse of judgment, when the best course of action would have been to simply say "my fault, won't happen again".

A large portion of accountability is to be accountable for your job, do not over promise and under deliver. Become known as the person who always delivers on time and under budget. If your brand includes this level of accountability you will be given greater responsibility and larger projects to succeed at and enhance your brand further.


"Discretion is the better part of valour." Falstaff meant this as a supporting argument for his general cowardice, but Shakespeare hit it out of the park with this statement. When in doubt, keep your trap shut. It is human nature to gossip, to share personal and privy information in some attempt to make ourselves appear connected or bigger. If you are seen as being indiscreet, you will never rise in the corporate world.

The best way to avoid being labeled as indiscreet is to err on the side of caution and never speak about someone else's personal affairs. Keep your own personal affairs to yourself, and give the gossipers little to comment on. Never talk negatively about your boss no matter how much of a demon they may be. Your boss is the contributing editor of your brand whether you like it or not.

Building a strong personal brand is like climbing a mountain, every piton is important. If you can take every opportunity to demonstrate these traits you will build the foundation of your brand and be on your way to the upper echelons of Canadian executives.

Link to the Forth Part: Married to your boss...

(Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 5) (Part 6)


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