Kia Jarmon from the MEPR Agency gave a great presentation today on the personal brand. Her explanation of brand is "the sum of all things people experience from you." Though those of us who lived in this world prior to FaceBook don't have as much of a problem, Jarmon explained that many of us are "branded" from early in life. Parents (and grandparents) who post pictures of children from birth are actually building the brand of that person that will go with the into adulthood. However, that brand does not have to control us, but it requires us to grab hold it and take over control of how we want people to see us. We make our brand.
If I could make one statement about myself, and how I would like people to perceive me, it would be:
I am an organized and efficient woman who encourages others to be the best they can be in service to others.
However, just because I am able to make such a statement with confidence does not mean that I have achieved all that is required for me to fulfill that brand. So, I am working on a list of items that I believe will make me a better administrator and manager. Because I want to be seen as a person who encourages others, this requires me to be a positive role model to my staff. I cannot be positive toward them, if I am not positive toward myself. This year, in order to work on having a positive attitude, I have made it a priority to list every night before I go to bed, something good that happened that day that I am thankful for. This is a reminder that there is good in each day, and it is not hard to find. Writing it down that same day helps me to remember it more easily and limits the power of "the bad" from controlling my thoughts. When I can see good in a day, I can encourage others to do the same. It helps me start my day off better and that affects staff.
In relation to that, I am working on being more empathetic with staff. That requires me not only to hear what they say to me, in the case of a complaint or gripe, but to listen and repeat back to them what they are saying and understand where they are coming from. When I can understand where they are coming from and how they see an issue, I can help them to grow by empowering them to do what fits their talents and gifts.
Managing an institution is really about working well with people, and much of that is reflected in how we communicate. While written communication is my strength area, I have to work hard to develop my verbal communication skills so that staff not only hear me but understand me and accept what I have to say because they are accepting of me, my role, authority and believe that I am their best advocate, as well as the library's.
We are a brand, and we are also the brand for the library...but that's a subject for another day.