I love college football and am a loyal fan, supporter, and follower. Most seasons, my teams have a winning record and, occasionally, even make a top-tier bowl game! At the same time, they occasionally fail to "complete the play." For example, the first season that Georgia Tech played Florida State, GT was up for more than three quarters and poised to win against FSU. Coach Bobby Bowden, moved Charlie Ward into the shotgun formation and suddenly FSU was unstoppable. GT lost. They were not prepared for a switch - a new look or change - in FSU's offensive scheme. In 2011 GT started out 6-0, and expectations in the GT community were sky high. The team then proceeded to lose five of their last seven games. Again, they failed to adjust. As in any other aspect of life, a loss is a loss regardless of the effort that went into preparation, planning, and execution. If you don't complete the play or deliver results, it's a loss. So is the case with your personal brand. If you take on a project then drop the ball in execution, you didn't complete the play. If you offer to coach and mentor an individual, yet never make time to meet, discuss, challenge, and provide feedback, you didn't complete the play. If you work many hours, but fail to finish the project or make the number, you didn't complete the play. If you deliver the proposal or contract after the due date, you didn't complete the play.
Effort is a baseline expectation. Extraordinary performers find a way to complete the play. Some define personal branding (or the value of your personal brand) through the lens of three criteria: performance, image, and exposure. When you think of personal branding through this lens, you may have a great image and opportunity for great exposure. But if you lack the business results - your measurable performance results - then your brand value decreases.
Let's revisit the college football analogy. A team may have multiple opportunities to play on ESPN, CBS, or ABC. This is exposure. A team may have star players with strong athletic abilities, stellar academic successes, visible morals and values, and may look great in the best Under Armour uniforms available. This is image. But over time, a team's poor performance on the field will drive away fans, the loss of sponsorship dollars, and trigger negative organization and team momentum. This is the impact of performance and of failing to complete the play.
The same is true in the leadership environment. You may be well known within the organization, involved in multiple facets of the culture, and well-connected relationally. You may have many opportunities to present to fellow executives, other team members, and publicly represent your organization. You may know many people and be known by many others. You may have a positive image and great exposure. And yet, if you repeatedly fail to perform, if you fail to deliver positive business results, then your career within the business may stall or be short lived.
BRINGING IT TO LIFE
◙◙ At Work: Are you known for delivering results? Do you create performance objectives that are easy to check off, but fail to impact the bottom line? Do you raise your hand to take on new tasks, projects, and responsibilities? Do you challenge the status quo in the pursuit of extraordinary results? Do you raise the bar for your team? Or do you run from challenges or difficult situations? Do you look to make the next job change (or run from your existing role) before dealing with a tough customer or business situation? Do you dump problems on your boss or another team member to address and resolve or do you own it?
◙◙ At Home: Are you completing the play in your personal relationships? Are you following through on your commitments to your friends and your family? Would your family say the same? Are you treating them with respect and serving as a role model? Are you investing in family activities and priorities?
◙◙ In The Community: Do you show up? Or are you just an inactive member? Do you offer to lead, chair, or facilitate? Do you take on responsibilities that will help and deliver benefits to the community at large? Would the community be thankful for your efforts and follow-through?
Bottom Line: It's not where you start that's important, it's where you finish.