The importance of growing and transforming your executive profile
An executive profile isn’t built in a day or even a month. It takes years of deliberate focus within their chosen industries for ambitious executives to grow an authentic and searchable presence that stands out from the crowd, as Wendy Spalding explains.
When author, global business thought leader, serial investor and tech entrepreneur Lisa Gansky wrote: “Your brand is your public identity, what you’re trusted for. And for your brand to endure, it has to be tested, redefined, managed, and expanded as markets evolve. Brands either learn or disappear,” she was referring to actual businesses.
She could equally have been referring to executives.
It is imperative for executives to build their profiles, their ‘brands’ so to speak. Businesses, brands and executives live online, as do their reputations, skills and expertise. A well-maintained online profile is a window into an executive’s personal and professional brand. But a brand narrative lives online and offline, and what an executive does offline in terms of his or her career will make it online too. The two are intrinsically linked.
An executive profile isn’t built in a day or even a month. It takes years of focus within their chosen industries for ambitious executives to grow an authentic and searchable presence that stands out from the crowd. It takes networking, working long hours and constantly learning and improving and growing their skills and leadership attributes. And if an executive has the chance to earn global experience, more the good. This contributes enormously to one’s profile.
Building an executive profile and personality starts with self-awareness. Being able to honestly evaluate one’s actions and impact on others is a strength in a leader. Awareness of one’s limitations enables good leaders to work cohesively with others who have differing strengths.
Being a leader of people means being visible: focusing on the team, building relationships with colleagues, giving time to coach young talent and aligning everyone to reach a common goal. It often means extending oneself beyond the organisation to support community and charitable initiatives.
Executives are most often required to contribute to functional expertise and industry knowledge beyond their full-time role within a company. Participating in the work of an aligned non-government organisation, professional organisations and industry body provides enormous value to a more holistic executive profile and personal brand.
An executive profile requires networking, attending key events and conferences, working long hours and constantly learning and improving and growing skills and leadership attributes.
Admirable executives have the ability to inspire change and often contribute to thought leadership and broader industry initiatives. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution in full swing, leaders across the globe in every industry are being asked to respond to massive disruption and to provide certainty in a uncertain world. Many of them are embracing the learning of new skills and ways of thinking, both through informal and formal education, which is available locally and internationally.
As an executive grows his/her profile they are often invited to participate on boards either as an executive in their own organisation or as an independent non-executive director. In our last newsletter Tuesday Consulting’s Director of Executive Search, Tsholofelo Nketane, wrote a piece on the role of a non-executive director in which she pointed out how joining a board affirms one’s position as an industry leader. It is also a privilege generally extended by association, rather than one that is openly advertised.
In today’s economy, collaboration is no longer a swear word. So, the ability to share one’s knowledge through academic institutions or writing thought leadership articles or speaking at conferences is an important way to build an Executive Profile, while contributing to one’s industry.
Many South African executives have recently written books to further share their message, such as Mteto Nyathi, Mcebisi Jonas and Nolitha Fakhude. Tuesday Consulting’s Talent Advisory Director, Gugu Khazi, has also recently published a book, Passion to Careers: Nine steps to building a successful career from your passion, making her the ideal executive to lead Tuesday Consulting’s Talent Advisory practice.
It is worth remembering the wise words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Food for thought indeed.
Wendy Spalding is business development director at Tuesday Consulting, an executive search and advisory firm.