Everyone knows that businesses love teamwork. Higher education loves teamwork, as anyone who has ever interviewed a college student knows. “Tell me about a time when you had to give someone critical feedback” usually leads to, “I was working on a team project, and John wasn’t doing his share.” We are taught to work and play in teams from the beginning. It’s codified into corporate mission statements, culture statements and recruiting messages.
We also are taught that bragging is to be avoided, and we seem to take pleasure in others failing. We enjoy seeing the infallible fail. There are the occasional celebrity flameouts (Charlie Sheen), the athlete who fades in dramatic fashion (Tiger?) and the business manager who gets what’s coming to him (anyone remember Chainsaw Al?).
So how do you balance the need to build your personal brand while balancing the needs of your team – regardless of your position on it – while also avoiding the fate of the arrogant? Carefully. Also, consider how you can – and should – make “team player” part of your brand. Here are a few tactics to start using and practicing now:
Ask how you can help. This could go in any direction. If you aren’t at the very top or bottom of your organization, your offers will go up, down and laterally. You get the opportunity to build great professional relationship – and maybe personal ones – while advancing your organization and your network. Oh, yeah. Don’t forget to deliver on what you’ve offered.
Give meaningful recognition. Subordinates will value it. Peers will appreciate you noticing. Just don’t patronize. Be real.
Practice talking about yourself. Many are uncomfortable with this, and for good reason. Done poorly, talking about your accomplishments can sound self-centered or worse. Done well, you can put your fingerprint on work you have done while also giving credit to those who have earned it. Your boss will ask you, “What are you working on?” Be ready.
The goal is simple: Be a real human who does good work in a team environment, who valuable and would be missed by the organization. Be able to discuss what you bring to the group while being gracious and willing to share the credit. Do some of these basics and you will be someone others want to work with and know, and you will bolster your brand.
Note: for a valuable article on the benefits and pitfalls of personal branding, see this article from Fortune.