Conformity is the enemy of innovation. And companies need to innovate to stay ahead of the competition. Same goes for personal branding: conformity is the opposite of distinction. And strong personal brands stand out, which helps them move ahead of the competition and rise through the ranks. If you are the same as everyone else who does what you do, you’re not a brand, you’re a commodity, replaceable by anyone else with your job title. When you stand out—in a positive way, of course—people pay attention.
Just being different for the sake of being noticed is not a good idea, though. You could be noticed for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes, conformity will add value to your personal brand (or at least not reduce it). If your company logo is blue, being a rebel by creating your own version in fuchsia because that’s your favorite color will not work in your favor. And the same is true for following the policies inside your company that make the business run smoothly. You still need to attach receipts to your expense report if you want to get reimbursed.
In other ways, coloring outside your company’s norms will add value to the organization. To become a realistic rebel, you need to first convince yourself that the rebellion will have a positive impact on your team or company. When you focus on those things that will definitely make a difference, while making work more fun, impactful and engaging, you become known as a valuable innovator who contributes to the organization’s success. The best kinds of rebel activities tick all three of these boxes:
- They help you exude your personal brand attributes—those things you really believe in, which are aligned with your values or passions
- They deliver value to your organization (productivity, cost savings, revenue generation, team cohesion)
- They will be appreciated by your colleagues, peers, managers, internal or external clients, etc.
Think about the things you do regularly at work, like leading meetings, communicating with others or creating project plans. How could you modify these regular work activities?
For example, you could make all the meetings you lead last for just 20 minutes because you firmly believe that potent, productive sessions give time back to participants, leading to better mental health and overall employee engagement—and highlighting the fact that you’re passionate about work/life balance. Or you can deliver all your virtual online meetings using an add-on to your standard corporate meeting platform (apps like mmhmm or Prezi) so you can exude a more engaging presence in the Zoom room.
You know best about the right rebellions to undertake, but maybe you have held back because no one else is doing it and you always comply with the unwritten, unspoken rules at your company. But when you’re sure an action will add significant value without causing major disruption, the time is ripe to follow your inner rebel.
How do you become an effective rebel? Answer these questions:
- What bothers me about the way we do things around here?
- What change could I make that would have a major positive impact on those I seek to influence and impact?
- What have I been eager to do, but haven’t for fear of rocking the boat or ruffling feathers?
- How can I bring more of my attitude and personality to work every day?
- What would really shake things up for my team—in a good way?
Being a realistic rebel is a great way to become known in the organization, amplifying your brand as the ultimate innovator.
William Arruda is a keynote speaker, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and creator of the 360Reach Personal Brand Survey that helps you get candid, meaningful feedback from people who know you.
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