How Safe Is Your Personal Brand?


Lives can unravel in almost a minute when something is discovered that is unethical. It is a reminder for leaders to do a check-in with their ethics and integrity. This particularly applies to leaders with influence, whether in a large or small organisation, a school, a tertiary institution, or government department.

Last week's media events are exploding by the hour. One moment Rupert Murdoch is supporting Rebekah Brooks, the next she has resigned, and now she has been arrested. Now, both the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and his deputy, in London, have resigned too. Who knows where this will go? It is a clear message that leaders need to look at their personal brand to see if it is in danger of being jeopardized.

One of my clients recently left the organisation where she had been working for over two years. She had an executive position and had made some great changes. She realised that some of the actions of the CEO although they may not be wrong, clashed with her values and integrity. She realised that not only the company has a brand to be protected, but it is important that she too protects her personal brand.

If you are a leader who is proud of your ethics and integrity does that apply to all your key influencers? How recently have you examined whether the values of your company are being lived, day to day? This means both with business activities and the way your staff are respected by you, other managers, and how the staff respect and live the company values.

What are your core values and do they include: Integrity, Trust and Respect?


Can you put your hand on your heart and tell yourself the truth? Are you prepared to compromise your values, because if you are, then maybe you are creating a culture that it is OK to do this and gives permission to others to perhaps compromise as well?

Several years ago in Tokyo Japan, I was a senior sales consultant for a management training company. Our biggest client was Philip Morris. It was interesting, because even then we were a non-smoking company, but were taking huge sums of money every year for delivering sales training to help our client sell cigarettes. They even paid us a special fee to keep us exclusive from working with any other foreign tobacco companies. Then the President dropped the exclusivity and the last contract I signed before I left Tokyo was a major one with RJ Reynolds. I vowed I would never do that again. When I came to New Zealand an opportunity arose to work with Rothmans. I declined as it was out of integrity with my strong values and this is before my Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.

More recently I had a different opportunity to work with a client. I felt uncomfortable with the way they operated so I declined. That is always hard, especially when in a recession, but I could not do it. Do you ever compromise your values?


Do your people trust you? And how do you know that they do? Do they feel safe to say something that is very important without fear of repercussions? Do they not talk to you because they know it will be spoken about with others? Do you trust them, and if not, then why not?

Over many years as a coach I have been trusted by my clients. Sometimes I land in a tough situation when someone shares something and I am faced with a very difficult situation. But when someone trusts me and asks for help, I will not let them down. Sometimes it is their only outlet.


This value seems so obvious; however, do you respect yourself? If there are any doubts then perhaps it's time to take stock. As a leader do you respect others' feelings? Are you compassionate or harsh? Is there a culture of respect in your organisation?

If respect is a judgment, it can become a tool of the ego and a source of conflict between human beings. You may not agree with someone's beliefs, however, respecting their differences is going to lead to a culture of respect.

Leaders create the culture or environment in the workplace. In a large organisation, that can differ between departments because of the way the leader acts and behaves. Whichever level of leadership you are at; these three values - Integrity, Trust and Respect - are a guideline to look at yourself and your teams. If you are not happy with them think about what and how you need to do to change the situation.

How is your Personal Brand today?

Gilly Chater
The Breakthrough Catalyst


Gilly helps people achieve insight powered breakthroughs for themselves and their businesses. She is an inspirational speaker who presents keynotes and breakouts at conferences and writes about the key ingredients for success in today’s world.

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