For experienced executives moving towards board roles, there are some important personal brand challenges to address. In this week’s workshop for Carnaby’s Director Education Program, we started off with a discussion of these brand challenges.
What are the typical personal brand challenges that directors and those looking for board roles face?
The top director brand challenges I see all the time are below… and these seemed to resonate with our workshop participants this week!
- Finding a unifying theme for different ‘hats’ and experience
- Clarifying the focus for particular platforms and audiences
- Creating a shift in what you are known for
- Pinpointing a meaningful way to differentiate yourself
- Communicating with confidence and authority in new/challenging environments
- ‘Being myself’ while working with the system
- Being seen and heard in group/online settings versus being ‘too much’…
Not currently looking for board roles but resonate with some of these challenges as a business leader? Check out this video on the Special Requirements of a Leader’s Personal Brand.
Starting to tackle your Board Director Brand
When it comes to defining and communicating a personal brand, often people are not sure where to start. It always starts with understanding your goals for working on your personal brand – in this case, to gain board opportunities… but even then, it’s important to get more specific.
When defining your goals for developing your Board Director Brand, you must seek to answer:
- What types of boards do you want to serve? Both broadly speaking (NFP? Commercial boards?), as well as more specifically (What level of sophistication? Size of organisation? Areas of focus at the organisation? Type of board/organisational culture?)
- What is the breakdown of this goal (e.g. adding 1 board to your portfolio, more? How much time will you allocate – and is this aligned with the board’s expectations?)
- What’s your timeframe on achieving this goal?
Building out your Director Brand Strategy
Once you’ve defined your goals, building out an effective plan requires clarity on your target audience (Who needs to see your brand in order to achieve these goals?). You should also undertake an assessment of your current network/audiences and how they see you: To what extend are they the right fit AND are you currently known to them for the specific attributes and goals you have around board roles? In this week’s workshop, participants completed a self-assessment to understand whether what they are currently ‘putting out there’ is aligned with their current director brand goals.
“Are you currently known to your network for the specific attributes…?”
This leads to development of your Professional Value Proposition, or the key messages for your Board Director Brand. This is not a quick exercise – it takes considerable review, reflection and even engagement with colleagues to come to understand the key, differentiated ways you can add value to a board – and the specific language you need to communicate that.
Your plan then moves on to understanding how to roll out this communication to your network and target audiences. This will vary, but may include a LinkedIn visibility plan, a networking plan, or specific tactics like public speaking or media engagement.
Stepping into the ‘Board Director’ You
As we talked about in the workshop, implementing your plan is just as much about ‘living it out’ as it is about scheduling and ticking off tasks. Living it out means you intentionally stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone to step into the new board directorship journey with confidence. As one of Carnaby’s directors said to our participants, in the case of commercial board roles: “You are getting paid to bring your expertise” – so you must be clear on the value you bring and own it in every interaction as you step into new board roles.
“You are getting paid to bring your expertise.”
Stepping into the board space means stepping up, and that is a growth challenge. Ensure you work into your plan some specific tools and habits that help build your professional confidence and your self-image, both internally in how you feel, and externally in how you then project this image outwards to others.