EP028 – How to Use Personal Branding to Become an Influencing Leader with Helga Davies & Ian Luckett

How to Use Personal Branding to Become an Influencing Leader

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How to Use Personal Branding to Become an Influencing Leader

In this episode of the IT Experts Podcast, we are joined by Helga Davies — she is an influence and impact leadership coach and we will be sharing with you, as an IT/MSP business why you need to know about personal brand in leadership in your business. 

Helga shares the importance of a leader’s impact and influencing skills and that if you don’t have INFLUENCE, then you can’t LEAD. 

We talked about the difference between corporate and personal branding, the power of PERSONAL BRAND, and how useful it is for you as an IT/MSP business leader. 

We also discussed how being self-aware you are of your own personal brand can help you in your business.  

Helga also talked about the three purposes that a good brand serve. They are: 

1. Authentic to You 

2. Your brand should reflect the business you’re serving. 

3. Your brand should be of service to your clients. 

She also shares how your personal brand should reflect in your behaviours, specifically in your VVV (VISUAL, VOCAL, and VERBAL) 

It is so important that you are able to control your brand by choice rather than by chance as this will enable you to have a brand that honours you rather than dilutes the impression and the impact that you want to have.  

Helga also shares how your brand will ultimately feed into your reputation and your legacy. 

She says, Without influence there is no leadership, as it’s through influencing that leader’s lead.” 

I hope you start implementing these tips and you’ll find how these can help you become a better leader in your IT/MSP business. 

You can access the other IT Experts Podcasts here –  https://innovatetosuccess.com/itega-podcast/   

If you enjoyed this podcast, it would be great to see you in our IT Experts Community. This is where we build profitable IT/MSP Businesses. You can access it by downloading our amazing free App by clicking here –  https://bit.ly/ITE-APP   

If we’re not connected already, let’s connect on LinkedIn, YouTube and over our website at innovatetosuccess.com    

Alternatively, you can drop me an email at Ian@innovatetosuccess.com   

Till next time, you look after yourself and I’ll catch up with you soon!

Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

Ian Luckett:

Welcome to The IT Experts Podcast, the only podcast that helps ambitious IT, MSP and tech business owners increase their sales, profit and productivity by simplifying business growth.

Ian Luckett:

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening wherever you are, welcome to The IT Experts Podcast. And today, I’ve got a really special guest for you, I’ve got Helga Davies. How Helga is an influence and impact leadership coach, she’s going to share with us today something that I know a little bit about but not a great deal, which is all about personal brand in leaderships. Welcome to the show, Helga.

Helga Davies:

Oh, pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Ian Luckett:

Excellent. We’ve got a really jam packed show this afternoon for you. We’re going to help the leaders of the businesses to understand impact of personal brand, how it’s important, how you can influence in lots of different situations around sales, leadership, development, coaching, et cetera, et cetera.

Ian Luckett:

But before we do, do you want to just explain a little bit about who you are, what you do and who you help?

Helga Davies:

Okay. I’m a leadership coach that specializes in the field of influence and impact. In essence, what that means is I help leaders, business owners, people who are pitching to be more successful in doing what they do through strengthening their influencing and impact skills. I work across industries, I work in the IT, pharma, digital, retail, telecoms sectors because it’s my belief that it’s only through influence that we lead. And, if you don’t have influence than you can’t lead. So quite fortunately, every industry that I work in has this need to influence and to lead, so it keeps me very busy.

Ian Luckett:

Yeah, and thanks for that. Even though I believe you’ve been fairly static for the last few months, I know you’re normally flying around the world, aren’t you?

Helga Davies:

I am, indeed.

Ian Luckett:

Well unfortunately or fortunately, you’ve been spending a bit more time at home. Okay, let’s talk about personal brand in leadership, then.

Helga Davies:

All right. So your personal brand, in essence, is what is your badge. It’s what people will attach to you when your name comes up, when they see you, when they have any interaction with you. And, whether you know your brand or not, they will attach a branding to you. That’s why it’s useful to be aware of it, if you are looking to influence, because you can either leave it to chance or you could control it through choice.

Helga Davies:

So what is true of people is that they will attach a branding to anyone that they are working with, and the more senior you are, the more important that becomes.

Ian Luckett:

Okay. Let’s just touch on one point, there. We’re talking about branding. Most people that we’ve spoken to before, in the IT and the tech space, will only really know the importance of company branding, so your logo, and your brochures, and your flyer, and your website and all of that kind of good stuff. We’re going to come onto, in a minute, why it’s important to have a brand as business leader. In your expertise, how are these two different types of brands, differentiated in the leadership space?

Helga Davies:

The corporate branding is what you see through the messaging that an organization sends out. So you’ll see it on their website, you’ll see it on their letterheads. You may see it on any of the work wear, if it’s branded. In essence, it’s the face of the business.

Helga Davies:

When you show up in a room, you come in with your own distinct branding. And then, what people are doing, whether it’s subconsciously or consciously, is they will be associating what they have seen about your business at a corporate level with what you’re bringing into the conversation, be it remotely or face-to-face, and looking to see if there’s an alignment between the two.

Ian Luckett:

Okay.

Helga Davies:

So one of the big challenges is that they if they have this expectation of who they’re buying as a result of seeing all the corporate imaging and the corporate messages, and then you come into the room and you offer something different, it’s already starting to create a sense of disassociation as opposed to alignment with the people that are in the room.

Ian Luckett:

That, then, affects their ability to build trust, rapport and move on forward. And I suppose, an analogy that’s just come to mind, just to put this into real terms, is a [inaudible 00:04:34] with Mrs. L to John Lewis, to go and get her Christmas present, which this year might be a set of nice saucepans. And you walk in, and it’s all nice and tidy, and you’ve got the green branding.

Ian Luckett:

Now if you think about, “Okay, I’m going to go and buy a really expensive telly,” for example, I’m going to go upstairs. I’m going to make a big investment, here. But, the guy upstairs is dressed like a kid whose just come out of college with his trainers and his pumps on, that’s a massive disassociation between, “I’ve come here for a premium brand, to buy a premium product, and to be served by premium people.” And all of a sudden now, hang on a minute, this doesn’t align. And then all of a sudden, I get feeling uncomfortable.

Ian Luckett:

This happens in business then, doesn’t it? This is the essence of what we’re talking about, isn’t it? Because this is a new thing, to me, in many ways, about understanding and learning how your brand as a leader can affect your ability to influence. Which is great, because that’s what this show’s all about. Okay.

Helga Davies:

Yeah, and one of the words that often crops up when we connect people to impactful impressions is the ability for them to be congruent. What that would mean, then, is that when they’re speaking, the way that they’re speaking aligns with the words that they’re saying, aligns with the way that they’re gesturing or using energy to convey the message. But likewise, if we connect a corporate brand with an individual, if there isn’t congruency, then in essence we have separation. And at the point that people are starting to wonder, “Who have I now bought into? Because this is what the business said, and this is what I’m getting in-person,” they will be using energy to try to answer that question, as opposed to stay tuned into your message.

Helga Davies:

One of the things that’s true about impactful leaders is that people will have thoughts about you before they have thoughts about your message. And if, for any reason, they perceive that you’re not impactful, regardless of how good your message is, regardless how long you spent rehearsing and prepping a presentation or a pitch, they won’t be able to absolve the messaging as seamless a way as they would do, if at the point that you walked in, they had really good things about you, even before you opened your mouth.

Ian Luckett:

One situation that I’ve just thought of that might be quite interesting is where you’ve got an IT, a MSP tech business, and they’ve their branding on their website, they’ve got their messaging just right, everything’s on point. Obviously, the leader can’t go out and do all the sales, so they bring in a salesperson, or a lead generation company, to accelerate that part of their business growth. But, Larry who drives a Porsche, not that I’ve got anything against Porsche drivers, doesn’t align up with the messages around safe, secure network, making sure we’ve got reliability, you’re not going to get hacked and all the like, all of those good things.

Ian Luckett:

And, I guess this is sometimes an area where, when you bring in people to your organization to help you, if they don’t align with that message, and the vision, and the values and all of that good stuff, that you get that, as you say, the delta between what they’re doing and the effectiveness of their working. Because I hear loads of horror stories about sales and lead gen, is that one of the things that goes on? Is that quite a good explanation of sometimes where you’ve got that difference of it not aligning?

Helga Davies:

Oh, absolutely. If we strip away what the person’s actually there to do, what we’re exploring and identifying when we connect a brand is what are the value sets that this person is promoting? Regardless of whether they’re attached to the micro part of the IT processing, or selling in a much bigger transformational project.

Helga Davies:

If you as an organization are known for being safe deliverers of robust technology that’s sustainable, then the chances are the people that turn up may also need to offer a sense of stability, and we’re a safe pair of hands, and doing things reliably in a steadfast way, regardless of what the particular challenges are at any moment in time.

Helga Davies:

One of the reasons why I got into this work around influence and impact in the first place was I remember going on a program where I was particularly interested in how to motivate leaders more effectively.

Ian Luckett:

Right.

Helga Davies:

And, at the end of the session, I remember feeling really bored and downcast. And, the thing that struck me was how incongruous it was that I was there to learn about more effective motivational techniques, and in fact I left feeling bored and uninspired. So, that was one of the reasons why I felt it was really important to start to get this message out to leaders, that we need to take very carefully what it is we are creating in the room through how we are behaving, talking, conveying our messages. And, to ensure that we [inaudible 00:09:45] all that down, it aligns with what we’re saying we’re all about as a business.

Ian Luckett:

I see.

Helga Davies:

And it doesn’t matter, then, if we’re ordinary and we do things in a really careful, well thought through way. We don’t all have to be transformational gurus out there, because actually in the world of tech, being reliable, being surefooted, never being phased by calamities could, for lots of organizations, be the thing that they’re looking for, particularly if their business is going through quite disturbing, unsettled change.

Ian Luckett:

This is where I had spoken, a few podcasts ago now, I can’t remember exactly what number it was, about the company values. I repeat a great prospecting call I had with a rather large MSP in Australia. The guy literally said, “As soon as I saw your values on your website, I knew we were going to get on because they lined up with us.” And, I guess what he was looking for is he was looking for yeah, I’ve got the pictures on the wall behind me. Not in this office, but in the other office. “Is he doing that, is he being innovative? Is he being flexible? Is he [crosstalk 00:10:54]?”

Helga Davies:

Yeah, absolutely.

Ian Luckett:

And, I think this is a really interesting point. So we’ve got another podcast on values, go back and listen to that. I’ll put a link in the show notes. But, what you’ve just said there was a real, true … You come onto this podcast, you want to influence people with your personal brand because you want to be known as a serious business in the tech industry. But, if you can’t go back and identify work, measure your company values, then that’s stop listening now, work out what the timer is now, and then come back after that point. Because that’s almost number one, isn’t it, that we’ve got to get the values right before we can move forwards.

Helga Davies:

One of the biggest mistakes that organizations make is they spend a lot of time wordsmithing their values set, and sometimes you can go into an organization and you can say to people, “What are the key values here?” And they’ll say, “Oh, hold on a moment. Let me just get them,” and they’ll get them out of a drawer, but the chances are they can’t recall them.

Helga Davies:

So one of the best ways of testing the extent to which your values are live and active in your people and in your organization is just to notice the culture. How are people behaving on a day-to-day basis? And, if you were highlighting the values that were upper most in the interactions that you were observing, would they be the ones that are one the pieces of paper that ultimately may have made it to the website? And if they’re not, then something needs to change. Either the values need to change, or we need to own the strength that we have, that somehow reflect a different set of values to those that we’re espousing.

Ian Luckett:

That’s absolutely right. I say to many of my clients that the values are an amazing way for us to do two things while creating and building great teams. Number one, you can reward people around living the values, and being there. “Oh brilliant, Johnny, you did a great job. You really held onto that customer issue, there. You lived in the value of customer comes first,” for example. You can celebrate, and talk about the values with the team, because the values of a business don’t just get created and then thrust down, they need to be created with the vision.

Ian Luckett:

But, the really powerful thing about having the values is when I’ll say deliberately wrong, but maybe it doesn’t align with the values. So if someone’s late, or they’re a bit sloppy, or they don’t look the part or something like that, you can pull them inside, you can pull them to one side and say, “Look Steve, I’ve noticed that X, Y and Z’s gone wrong. This doesn’t align with our values right now.” And, because you’re saying it doesn’t align with our values as a business, you take all the Is, and the wes, and the finger pointing and all of that stuff out of it, you diffuse it all and you make it much more flat lined, as it would be. It’s actually even more powerful to having those difficult conversations.

Helga Davies:

I do know some organizations that regularly have updates in terms of feedback reviews, on the extent to which an individual is leading and operating with the values that the business knows it wants to be known for. I won’t name them, because I’d like to maintain some client confidentiality in this instance. But, in some of the companies, they have this ability to talk about, “In the spirit of our corporate values, can I just bring your attention to,” but it doesn’t feel like it’s a big reprimand. It feels like it’s just an opportunity to nudge people with more awareness towards something that has even closer alignment.

Ian Luckett:

Okay. No, that’s really interesting. So self-awareness is a massive thing right now, and it should always have been, but there’s certain people that are bringing it to the forefront. To be aware of ourselves, our actions, how we’re behaving, how we’re coming across, and also other people in our organization. I think there’s a whole nother podcast on that one, actually.

Ian Luckett:

So when you’re self-aware as a leader, and you’re in that space, what are some of the things that they need to consider, remember, be deliberate about with their personal branding? Either when they walk in the office, or when they walk into a pitch, or just generally in business. What’s some of the key things that people need to have at the forefront of their mind?

Helga Davies:

I would say, first of all, spend some time to really anchor what your brand is, because a good brand serves three purposes.

Helga Davies:

First of all, it has to be authentic to you. We’re not all the same, we have different motivational preferences. We have a different bias, sometimes towards the bigger picture, sometimes towards more precise data, sometimes towards people, or a combination all those three. So having a brand that authentically aligns with what you perceive to be important in your strengths is key. But, it’s also important that your brand reflects not only what are you, but the organization that you’re serving, and we’ve talked about that just a few moments ago. But, the third thing is that the brand, if it’s going to travel to different organizations and different companies that you’re looking, ultimately, to service in terms of a client-customer relationship, it needs to be offer real value for them. Identifying your brand is more than just saying, “Okay, what am I like? And, what will people get when I show up?”

Helga Davies:

Ideally, it has that ability to have a sweet spot between those three different perspectives, what works for you, what works for your business, and what will work for your client organization. And, at the point that you know your brand, then, and my connection with brand requires people to be really clear about their brand using three key descriptors. It might be that your brand, if you’re quite high up an organization, is that you know you’re really innovative. You might recognize you have really great skills to be commercially astute. And perhaps, you’re very pragmatic. So, let’s imagine that that’s your unique brand. Innovative, commercially astute and pragmatic.

Helga Davies:

When you know that about yourself, it can guide how you prepare, how you step into conversations, and ultimately how you review your effectiveness in the conversations that you’ve had. If you want to come over as innovative, you can’t sit in a meeting and offer nothing groundbreaking for that client. If you haven’t, at the point that ideas have been talked about, been able to connect it to a commercial picture and offer good judgment on that, you haven’t been honoring your brand to the client. And, if you haven’t been able to turn conceptual pictures into something that’s really pragmatic that applies to the situation that you’re discussing with a client, again, you can’t own your ability to have done that.

Helga Davies:

So at the point that you know what you really stand for, it hones and tones what you choose to say and what you choose not to say, in order for that to be emphasized through the contributions that you make. If you know that your brand, then, is already going to be worthy in your client base, it ensures that the way that you use time with any client will always be well thought of. And, if a client perceives that you’ve used their time well, chances are they are going to be influenced by you, they’re going to like you and they’ll want to work with you.

Ian Luckett:

Okay. Here’s a great question for you. So, we’ve got business values, I’ve got on my wall, nice big colors, printed out, big posters. And I think I’ve got some work to do with this, and I don’t mind admitting that at all. I’ve got a personal brand as well, which I probably need a bit of thinking about, so don’t put me on the spot today. But, I don’t have those badges all over me, I don’t have those posters, and all of the buzzwords and all that sort of thing. How do I either portray my personal brand, or let other people know what it is?

Ian Luckett:

The reason that I’ve said this is that we’ve come up with this example of innovative, commercially astute and pragmatic. When people know … Say for example, I was in that position, and I was innovative, which we are anyway. But, if someone knows they’re coming into a meeting with me and they need a bit of innovation, they need someone to think outside the box, they know they can ask Ian because that’s the kind of guy he is. And also, he knows his numbers, and also he’s quite pragmatic as well. So, they get that because they know that.

Ian Luckett:

But, if you’re going into a sales situation and you want to align with your brand, and you’ve never really met that other person before, I guess how do you display, and how do you tell people about what your brand is?

Helga Davies:

So first of all, we can’t make the same mistake at a personal level as organizations make at a corporate level, IE spend a lot of time thinking about our brand, and then find it just sits in a drawer and we have to dig around in order to connect and remember it. If you can’t easily recall your brand, then chances are it’s not authentic enough to you.

Ian Luckett:

Right.

Helga Davies:

Because at the point your really understand what your brand is, it will always be part of you but it might need some honing and toning, and strengthening, now that you’re more aware of it. That’s the first thing, actually, be sure that the exercise around brand is done so well that you won’t, then, have to search for what is it because it is, intrinsically, already part of you.

Helga Davies:

Now, the truth about brand is your client base may or may not know what your brand is.

Ian Luckett:

Yeah.

Helga Davies:

So your brand should, intrinsically, be already such a part of you that you shouldn’t have to trawl around in your brain to find it, download it, because they’ve got that. But, the people who you’re communicating with, your new audiences, your established clients, they may or not know what your brand is.

Helga Davies:

Now, people who are more confident in asserting how they work as well as what they do may put it out. So they might say, “Look, if you work with me what you’ll find is I will always bring you innovative thoughts, in terms of how you can proceed, particularly with things that are problematic. And, I always make sure that they are well costed, so that they stay within your budgets.”

Ian Luckett:

Right.

Helga Davies:

“And they’ll have a practical application, which means that within two weeks of me talking about it, some of that will be implementable.” So they may actually offer clarity around their brand by stating it upfront.

Helga Davies:

But, if you choose not to, then through your behaviors, the audience will start to attach a brand to you. Now, the behaviors are what I call the VVV, because you can convey your brand through how you look, which includes the outfit that you choose to wear as well as how you choose to sit, how you choose to stand, how you choose to convey your presence on a remote call, so the visuals. The vocals, the actual tone, pitch, energy that’s conveyed through the voice. And then ultimately, the final V, which is the verbals, is the words that you choose to use. So through the visual, vocal and verbal behavior, you will be creating a picture in people’s minds that they, then, will associate to you, badge you with, which becomes your brand.

Helga Davies:

And of course, the most influential, impactful people are those who have an impact on others that aligns with their branding intention, with the intent that they had for their brand.

Ian Luckett:

Love it. So you’ve got two choices, either someone will decide to brand for you, or you can live your brand and be in a bit more control. I absolutely love that, that’s great.

Ian Luckett:

Okay look, let’s ask the golden question. How can I use it? How can I use the brand to help me influence to get someone the right outcome or the right decision?

Helga Davies:

Yeah. One of the great things about brand, particularly in businesses where there may not be great cost margins, where a lot of people could be competing on the same turf, is that if you can’t be separated from other competitors on the basis of price or process, or potentially performance results, then the one thing that will be unique to you will be you, will be your personality.

Helga Davies:

So, taking care to think about not only authentically, what can I bring to a situation, but what would my client most welcome from somebody whose working them on this project, on this transformation, on this particular piece of work within a project? What would they value? And, bringing that value to them through the way that you interact with them, through the way that you convey your influence on them, will mean that they will have a rapport and a resonance with you that could give you the edge, the differentiator edge, over those who are not really exploring that as a dimension.

Ian Luckett:

I love this subject. So Helga thanks every so much, this afternoon, for your time. I’ve learned quite a bit myself, which is good. It’s one of these episodes where I’m actually going to go back and listen to it again, because I think there’s more golden nuggets on the other side of the camera and the microphone than I thought there was.

Ian Luckett:

Do you want to just give us a quick summary of the key point? And also, any contact details, if people wish to have a chat with you and talk any further about what you might be able to help them with?

Helga Davies:

Okay. So the final theme that I’d like people to go away from this podcast thinking about is that behavior builds brand, and that it’s through your brand that people decide whether they will buy into you or not. And ultimately, then, your brand will feed into your reputation and your legacy, so it kind of matters. Controlling it through choice rather than chance will enable you to manage the narrative, and the conversations, so that ultimately you’re attached to a brand that honors you rather than dilutes the impression and the impact that you want to have.

Helga Davies:

It’s a subject I think that’s going to be come even more crucial, as we move into a post-COVID world, and margins and competitiveness increases. If anybody wants to do any further work around this, or wants to share their thoughts having listened to this podcast, then by all means feel free to drop me a note. I can be found at helga@vcurve.co.uk. I hope at some point, then, that we’ll have a chance to move the subject of brand on, and connect it more to influencing styles, which of course are part and parcel of being effective as a leader.

Ian Luckett:

That’s brilliant. Thanks again, you look after yourself and I’ll catch up with you guys soon. Take care, now.

Helga Davies:

Thanks, Ian. Bye.

Ian Luckett:

So thanks very much for listening, I hope you enjoyed the show. It’ll be great if we could connect over on LinkedIn so please drop over there and send me a message, and let me know which podcast you’ve been listening to. And also, I invite you to go and take the IT Experts test on our brand new IT Experts app. You can get full details on this over on our website at innovatetosuccess.com.

Ian Luckett:

Also, if you enjoyed the show it’d be great if you could leave a rating and review. And in the meantime, I’m going to let you get on with the rest of your day. You have fun, enjoy yourself, and I’ll catch up with you soon. Take care, now. 

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