I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about personal branding and what role it can play in the overall business strategy of a company. Each time I think about it I continue to do so in terms of how it plays a role in sports.
I’m sure that just like me, when you played any type of organized sports when you were young, the coach constantly talked with you about the importance of the TEAM. I’m sure you all heard the saying, “There is no I in team” a million times as you came up through the ranks.
This type of message is predominant even at the college level. I recently read a transcript of a speech given by the University of Michigan football coach, just before a game versus Ohio State many years ago. In that speech Bo Schembechler stated (I’m paraphrasing), “This is the last time you’ll ever truly play for a team. Even if you happen to go on to the NFL you won’t be playing for a team … you’ll be playing for a contract, or you’ll be playing for the longevity of your career.”
As much as I’d love to share the remainder of his speech … I won’t, but I am sure you can see how true his words were and are still today.
I personally don’t think playing for a contract or to extend the longevity of your career is a negative, non-team focused event. I also don’t believe building a personal brand is egotistical or completely self centered.
Take a second and look at the New York Yankees. The team is comprised of 27 players who are each All Star caliber players.
When the TV networks are advertising a game against the Yankees and the Red Sox, they don’t simply show the logos of each team. They will typically show their name and an action shot of David Ortiz and possibly A-Rod.
Don’t get me wrong. The Yankees have done a tremendous job of building an incredible brand, and regardless of what players they have on the team, there will be a certain endearment to the organization.
I would argue, however, that the brand of the Yankees is that of excellence and the only way to deliver on that promise is to stock the organization full of talented players who have amazingly strong personal brands.
These individuals have paid the price to become as talented as they are, and their consistent stellar performances have given them a solid platform from which to build a solid personal brand. The more impressive and massive their personal brand gets … the more positive it is for the stature of the organization.
When building your company why wouldn’t you view it the same way? If your goal is to have a brand that reflects excellence in your industry, why wouldn’t you staff it with the best people you can find? Also, why wouldn’t you want them to build a strong personal brand and showcase their knowledge and expertise through a blog?
If you are afraid your employees don’t have the knowledge necessary to be thought leaders in their area of operation … maybe you don’t have the right people.
Maybe you are afraid that if you encourage your employees to build their personal brand, that your competition will know who they are and lure them away from your company? Well if that is your fear you simply need to make sure your company is a place that people want to be a part of. You need to make sure your company culture is positive, enjoyable, and a place people are PROUD to be a part of.
If someone does decide to move on, be thankful for the contributions they made to your organization, and take the opportunity to add someone who has stronger skills.
If you encourage your employees to build their personal brand, they will see you care. Not only for your company and your own financial situation, but for them. They will see that you appreciate them and the skill set they bring to your company and they’ll be motivated to become better so their personal brand can shine through more brightly and conversely elevate the stature of your company.
Talk about a win – win! 🙂