During a coaching session today I was taking a client through my approach to personal branding with three words. As is often the case, coming up with suitable words that really make an impact and allow for differentiation was easier said than done. We happened to have a map of career stakeholders up on the flip chart so to get the words flowing I asked him to quickly think of three words for one of these stakeholders. Then another. Then quickly into asking who is the most challenging, the most innovative, rebellious, etc. This really got the ideas flowing.
However the surprise which we stumbled on was that most of them were “demanding”. From this the client realised that these people would only respect people who were demanding. At a practical level this represented a membership rule for the more senior group. This process took just 10 minutes.
For me it demonstrates that a simple, practical approach can pay huge dividends. Theory is important, but with simple structures we are able to move people rapidly towards their goals. In the case of this client, it is too early to say how he benefitted, but my guess is that this will turn out to be a critical insight as he works to become more influential — and he is certainly clear that unless he can make the “demanding” impression he’s unlikely to be accepted at the more senior level.