Build Your Brand (Part 5)
Unforgivable Brand Killers...
by Anthony Kaul

I was recently at my wife's staff Christmas party; some of the antics and behavior got me thinking of the things that we do to completely shatter our personal brands. Be very wary of "company social" events, the very name is an oxymoron and they are minefields for your reputation. Lets review some of the more common behaviors that lead to brand erosion.

1. Plain old bad manners. I remember a company event where an otherwise promising account executive destroyed his career in the buffet line. This fellow liked to eat, he was fit, he exercised regularly and had the appetite of a horse. For this particular company wide lunch, he made sure to get into the line early, and loaded his plate with the choicest goodies. He literally inhaled his whole plate down and was lined up again before a few of the company had been around once. His timing was off and he happened to be in front of the CEO's personal assistant with his dirty plate and plum sauce on his chin. His first mistake was not offering to let her in as he was on his seconds. He compounded his mistake by talking up the chicken satay that he boasted to have already had half a dozen of, and when they got to that portion of the line there were only 4 satay left. He took three of them and muttered something about the early bird. The next time this guy's name was mentioned in the boardroom, the CEO stated that he was a good performer, but that he came across as selfish and rude. I wonder where he got that impression...

2. Treating subordinates poorly. This is probably the most common mistake that executives make, and it has led to the ruination of countless brands. The world seems to be getting more rude, less tolerant and more abrasive every year. Buck the trend and it will bolster your personal brand. How you treat your subordinates, the admin staff, waiters, taxi-cab drivers, bellman, and flight attendants will colour your personal brand. Put your ego and feelings of superiority away, be polite and it will be noticed.

3. Poor judgment. We all have lapses of judgment, try and keep yours away from the office. Most episodes of drunk and disorderly conduct that grace every company social function fall into this category. My rule for company functions is 2 drinks maximum, and behave like your mother-in-law is your chaperone.

4. Indiscretion and gossip. You will not make to the highest ranks of corporate Canada if you are not discreet with information and never give in to the temptation to gossip. If you think about your company's grapevine, we all know that there are a few people that you can tell something to and it will be common knowledge by lunch. When in doubt, clam up.

5. Lying. People lie all the time and most of it is unnecessary. Mid-managers come out of meetings with executives and get grilled by their staff and instead of saying I can't talk about it they make up some bastardized version of the truth that is eventually found out and erodes their brand with their staff. I had a VP once who did not want to share a certain spreadsheet with me, so instead of saying so, he stated that he thought he erased it... great way to add incompetence to his existing brand. Be truthful, if you can't talk about something, say so.  If you don't wish to discuss something, say so. Your brand will benefit from the personal qualities of honesty and directness.

There you have it, five faux pas to ponder while trying to find parking at the mall this holiday season. When reviewing these points its clear that to build a winning personal brand we just have to follow the advice we'd give our kids.

Link to Sixth & Final Part: Your Personal Brand Evaluation

(Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4)


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