Communicating the ‘whole’ professional: Why this matters for individuals and teams

by | Jun 24, 2019 | Brand Expression, Corporate culture, Personal Brand

In my work with individuals and teams, I have come across lots of proof that people want to build brands that feel authentic and reflective of them as a ‘whole person’… and that there are strong benefits to doing so. Here are three examples from my recent work.

Leading with a whole personal brand

In a workshop this month for Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy, we looked at the core of your personal brand: your purpose, values and leadership style. This team is made up of highly successful professionals across a variety of industries who are working together to raise awareness and funds for the hospital’s programs through a dynamic series of events for emerging leaders called ‘Inner Circle’. In planning their online communications, we talked about the importance of leading with a personal brand that demonstrates who you are in terms of what you care about, both in your career and your not-for-profit work.

We also discussed the importance of starting any communications efforts that involve you as an individual, such as a LinkedIn strategy, with clear personal brand goals. This means asking questions like, ‘Why am I on LinkedIn?’, ‘Who is my audience?’ and ‘What about this will interest them?’ and answering these in light of both your goals for your formal career and for any other important projects, such as committees and volunteering.

By spending time communicating the core of your personal brand – your purpose, values and leadership style – and by setting clear personal brand goals, you will greatly increase the chances of others understanding your work as a whole individual and gain interest in the initiatives for which you are seeking support.

The multi-faceted career of an experienced professional

In a meeting this week to discuss a client’s shift to a more personally-branded website for his consulting business, he showed me a pictorial timeline of his career that he had constructed for a recent talk. This was a fantastic way to understand how his experiences had taken many twists and turns, through various ‘mini-careers’, to lead to the collective expertise he uses in his work today.

For many highly experienced business people, their careers have not been a straight line and they often have multiple projects on the go at once. This may include heading up a business they started, while working as an NE Director on other boards and perhaps doing some charity work and some speaking. I find that these types of individuals often want to demonstrate who they are as a whole professional by incorporating different aspects of their experience within a unified theme. The have a desire to show the world more of who they are as they look back on their careers, and this brings personal satisfaction as well as highlights to people the different ways that they might engage or support them.

Rumi quote

The strength in a collective WHY

For one of my professional service firm clients, I’m currently preparing a workshop inspired by Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ that gives a cross-section of a large team the chance to come together and discuss the things that give them a sense of purpose at work. For organisations like this one, taking some time out to do this in a facilitated conversation that includes many different team members is a highly valuable way to tap into the real culture and to strengthen it through the shared experience of what matters.

Considering the whole person in a team setting, and giving air time to what they value at work, not only provides a helpful tool for taking a fresh look at the company values written on the wall or on the website, but it can be a powerful activity to build meaningful brand messages that highlight the best of your people and build trust with stakeholders.

Every day I come across people wanting to express who they are, as individuals and as teams, in ways that feel genuine and meaningful. There is so much power in having a plan and a platform for doing so. Customers, stakeholders and internal teams all resonate with the real, the human, and the inspiring.

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