Personal Branding: Be Authentic and Lead Successfully

by Joe on May 2, 2008

My friends and I had a conversation about being authentic at work based on Jack Welch’s famous advice. We found that being authentic at work enhances your experience while there and makes the entire organization around you better, and also increases your coworkers perception of your specific personal brand as someone who is real and cares. 

Alexandra Levit extended the conversation about being authentic at work with a great summary of 7 Qualities that Predict Leadership Success from DDI.  I think in general having these 7 skills makes it easier to be authentic at work.  

According to DDI, effective leaders:

Are masters at managing through ambiguity:
The modern workplace is fraught with chaos. These leaders possess the ability to stay calm amid turmoil and to be convincingly reassuring. They keep their people focused with clear direction and goals, and view change through the lens of opportunity.

Inspire confidence and believe in the future:
Leaders who make it a priority to understand and address employee needs, who can differentiate those things that are important from those that are not, and who can communicate a long-term vision that attains the buy-in of employees and customers alike, are the ones who find their organizations rewarded with long-term customer relationships and loyal, engaged employees.

Have a passion for results:
These leaders place emphasis on those activities, initiatives, programs, and processes that produce the best ROI. They are able to stay the course, overcoming any obstacle thrown in their way, because they believe their focus will truly bring about the outcomes they are seeking.
Are marked by unwavering integrity: Good leaders must earn trust every day. Their values must be visible through their actions, and they must be both able and willing to be held up as an example to others. Bad news, such as the need for layoffs or budget cuts, or the failure of the organization to meet financial targets, must not be hidden or sugarcoated.

Set others up for success:
Leaders who are true talent advocates understand that feeling successful is a prerequisite for ongoing engagement and that successful people are more, not less likely to stay. But they also understand that success is about more than praise. It’s about developing people, giving them room to grow (even if it means giving them the opportunity to fail), and coaching them to be their best, so the organization can be its best.

Have strong, rather than big, egos:
Leaders with big egos, so good at tearing others down, often are terribly insecure themselves. They lack the self-confidence that leadership demands.  On the other hand, those with strong egos have a positive self-image but at the same time are able to acknowledge and value the thoughts and contributions of others—including those at lower levels of the organization.

Have the courage to make decisions:
When faced with making tough choices, the best leaders do not shy away from taking prompt action. They know that indecisiveness can lead to the paralysis, and that popular decisions are not always the best decisions. And they understand that too many compromise decisions, while usually less painful to reach, breed mediocrity and lead to results that, in the end, please nobody.

I like the 1st, 6th and 7th.  I have found that if you are making tough decisions you are managing through ambiguity, although they are not mutually inclusive.  Exhibiting these qualities is what building your brand is all about.  But, to be successful, as Holden Caulfield would say, don’t be a phony; you gotta be authentic.

What are your favorites from the list? Why?  Leave a comment and let me know!


Nice write-up….in my many adventures, I’ve found passion to be the most important word for successful personal brands. I say this because passion drives results!

by Dan Schawbel on May 2, 2008 at 6:33 pm. Reply #


Thanks for stopping by! Does passion alone drive results or does passion drive action?

I think passion drives action, and smart actions drive results.

Glad you enjoyed it.

by Joe Budde Jr. on May 2, 2008 at 6:36 pm. Reply #

I think its a combination. For example, I think Apple is a passionate brand but they are also a smart brand that plans every move. Smart action alone makes you good at what at you do but no one wants to work for you or buy your stuff. Walmart strikes me as a company heavy on smart action but low on passion.

by Matt on June 11, 2008 at 11:11 pm. Reply #

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