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3 Quick Tips For Creating A Personal Brand

3 Quick Tips For Creating A Personal Brand

Branding isn’t just for businesses. You can build your own personal brand as well. Personal branding is a way to build a presence so that people see your skills and abilities. If you are looking to advance your career, personal branding is exactly what you need. Building your personal brand will help advance your career.

I’ve been in the technology industry for 10+ years with a major focus on software testing. It was only four years ago that I started blogging. Prior to that, my only writing experience was small stuff that I had written in elementary, high school and college. When I first started blogging my articles were about software development and testing. Eventually I branched out to articles with tips on career advice. A vast majority of my articles for both tech and business center around personal experiences. So, I created a space for myself where I became the subject matter expert.

Here are my top 3 tips for creating your personal brand:

Learn and Explore

You have a niche. It is something amazing if you may have not discovered it yet. If you are trying to advance yourself in your career, the best thing to do is find out what you are great at. It should also coincide with something you actually like about your career.

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For example, if you are a front-end web developer, that means you are responsible for the layout and design of a website. You are probably familiar with CSS, JavaScript or HTML. You’re probably also familiar with liquid, fluid or responsive design. That’s great but you need to dig deeper and learn more about them.

Do research to learn more and be sure to think outside of your job description and your past experience. Practice anything new you’ve learned on your own so that it comes from “real world” experience.

Combine these new things you’ve learned with the things you already know and boom! Not only does this strategy help create better blog posts, but it helps you to advance your career.

It also makes for better conversations in meetings, simply because you’ve become the subject matter expert at the table!

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Write and Educate

You have the ability to write. If you feel like you don’t, either research or take a class. If you feel like paying for writing classes, I’d recommend writing workshops. There’s some online and in-person classes. There’s also 1 on 1 classes.

You may have many first drafts when you start writing and that’s ok. You may go days where you are working on the same article and that is okay as well. If you are writing to educate others you need to do everything to ensure that your article is clear and concise.

You also need to ensure that it is filled with great examples and works cited where necessary. You should also decide who your audience is for your niche, beginners or advance? I personally like writing for both.

If I feel that an article should be more advanced, I’ll write a “part 2” as well. This works out great for three reasons: beginners can follow both articles and understand them both, advanced users can skip to the second article, and you’ll have another blog post under your belt. Obviously, you should make sure that the posts are linked to one another so that users can click back and forth when necessary.

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Publish and Social Network It

You must believe in yourself! Everything starts with self belief. Imagine me virtually grabbing you and shaking you like the guy from the movie “Airplane,” when the woman started to panic. I’m basically telling you to get yourself together—you can do this!

If you would like to test the waters of self publishing your own articles, you can create a personal blog on sites such as, tumblr.com or wordpress.org and publish.

You can publish an article on LinkedIn to immediately reach followers within your industry to see what they may be interested in reading.

Creating your own personal blog gives you the ability to create sample articles to showcase. Once you’ve gotten comfortable, I suggest that you contact any publication that you read on a daily basis. Or google publications within your niche to see if they are accepting contributing writers. Read their guidelines on contributing and submit articles. After your articles are published make sure you “social network” the heck out of it. Post them on every platform that you are on. You should also ask the people you know to do the same.

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Creating your own personal brand is not difficult. You’ve probably been doing it already simply by asking for LinkedIn recommendations.

It’s important to know that in order to stay relevant in your industry you must continuously be focused on doing everything to create and enhance your personal brand. I like to tell people, “don’t just be job smart, be career smart.” Make sure that you make a huge impact on your career so that you are valuable. You shouldn’t just be trying to secure yourself a job; you should be securing yourself a future.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Aqueelah Emanuel

Founder of AQ's Corner

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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