What is your office role, and the dangers of letting other people define your personal brand by Roz Usheroff
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man (and woman) in their time plays many parts . . .
As I read Molly Cain’s September 18th article in Forbes “The 7 Types of People Who Never Succeed at Work,” I was immediately reminded of the Shakespearean reference to the many people we encounter throughout our business career and life in general.
What is most interesting to me is that Cain’s perspective while entertaining and even insightful to a certain extent speaks to a much deeper issue. Specifically our tendency to apply labels that invariably pigeon-hole people into seemingly well-defined categories. From the “Groupthinker” and “Apologizer,” to the “Apathetic Guy” and the “Sore Loser,” Cain certainly covers the bases. But is she correct in the absoluteness of her assessment? Given that we rarely get the opportunity to really know most of the people who come and go from our life stage, I would have to say no.
In fact, experience has repeatedly taught me that in most instances, people’s impression of others is largely a reflection of their own characteristics, including their fears and prejudices. Why do you think potential members of a jury are so meticulously grilled by opposing attorneys? No matter how objective we may try to be our “personal truths” inevitably and to varying degrees influence our views of the world and others.
Perhaps you might think otherwise. Fair enough, but do you remember the classroom game in which one student whispers something in the ear of the person next to them. Then that person whispers supposedly what they heard into the ear of the next person and so on and so on? By the time the whispered words have reached the final person in the chain, what is revealed at the end is vastly different from what was originally said. This reminds us that people hear and yes even see the same things differently.
For me this last example as well as the Cain article, is a ringing reminder that we should never allow people to define who we are or lock us into a narrowly defined role that more likely than not fails to showcase who we really are and what we can really do. In other words, when we fail to manage our personal brand we are opening the door for others to manage it for us.
In this context I have to ask this one simple question . . . who is managing your brand?
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