Hot Mess Leadership: When Image Becomes Dangerous

The term“hot mess” typically refers to someone disheveled on the outside with some redeeming qualities on the inside. Urban dictionary defines a “hot mess” as

” when one’s thought or appearance are in a state of disarray, but they maintain an undeniable attractiveness or beauty”

Leaders can go a long way by getting clothes that fit, shoes that shine, and well-kept hair and nails.

Work on your magnetism. Refrain from stupid outbursts. You will have another leg up.

It’s important to avoid being a “hot mess”.
Cleaning up the outside matters.

The more dangerous problem is when the “hot” is on the outside and the “mess” is on the inside.

In other words, you look the part,

You have a strong leadership presence.

But, you don’t operate with integrity or care about your team.

It’s tricky, because your connections or image may open doors.

A seat at the table must be used carefully.

A Few Signs You’re a Hot Mess Leader

  • You spend more time planning your outfit than your presentation
  • You make your team cater to your maintenance needs
  • You learn all you can about your boss, but know very little about those who work on your team
  • You never get past the small talk at events
  • The spend more time on networking than leading
  • (what would you add?)

The truth is, as leaders, sometimes we are “hot” and sometimes we are “messy” on both the inside and the outside.

We need good mirrors for both.

Snap, Crackle, STOP– What's Your Brand?

Have you ever thought of yourself as a brand?

Most people associate brands with companies, services or products– but don’t always stop to think about their personal brand let alone how to build it.

This is a guest post from Jonathan Green.

“Jonathan is a culture evangelist who focuses on leadership development behaviors and communications strategies. His expertise is service models that provide world-class experience. He has worked in a variety of verticals including Finance, Utilities, Tech, and Telecom. Green has spent the last seven years working for a large Telecom provider and thoroughly enjoys the fast paced and ever-changing environment. Check out his blog at monsterleaders.com

As individuals, we actually have much more at stake as our brand is being observed, assessed and judged on a regular basis. In my work with young leaders, I carve out time out to help them consider their brand and to be deliberate about enhancing promoting it. The key is simplicity. Break it down into manageable parts.

1 – Image

2 – Behaviors

3 – Attitude

I usually start by relating the personal branding process to one of two topics that most of us have dealt with at one time or another: dating and cereal.

Dating

Consider the following:

When you go on a first date, what are you looking to teach your date about you?

… that your baggage is not as severe as that of her last boyfriend/girlfriend?

… that your brain functions at a normal capacity?

… that your hygiene practices are in line with conventional societal norms?

… that you are the kind of person they would want to live with until the end of time?

Your BRAND is on the line, and you are selling it. Your image is a mix of who you actually are and who you want the other person to believe you are. You don’t start a conversation with the worst decisions you have made in your life as you do not want to be defined by those. However, those are part of who you are, they are the scars and stripes that you carry with you all the time. So is your image true to yourself? Do your behaviors match your desired outcome? And most important, you have a choice in what attitudes you bring to the table is your attitude one that others want to subject themselves to?

Now, Mix in Cereal

Another way to look at it is to think of yourself as a brand of cereal.

Is it good for you? (do others want to be around you?)

Do you like the taste (do others enjoy talking to you, learning from you, sharing experiences with you?)

Is it made by a company that is safe and reputable (can you be trusted, do your behaviors build relationships?)

Some Easy Steps to get started

1. Ask yourself some questions
– How do I want to be viewed?
– What words do I want others to use to describe me?
– What words best describe the ideal me: reliable? intelligent? upbeat?…?

2. Reverse engineer your brand
– what behaviors must I exhibit to be viewed in this way?
– with whom should I be involved?
– where should I hang out?

3. Check it
– Do my behaviors reinforce my desired brand?
– What words are being used to describe me?

4. Who is promoting your brand?
– who is selling your brand, to whom and where?
– recruit some “sales people”

Encouraging young leaders to consider these questions can help set the stage for important inner dialogue and external changes. I have found that this work leads to amazing development, growth and a future driven by behaviors that matter.

Snap, Crackle, STOP– What’s Your Brand?

Have you ever thought of yourself as a brand?

Most people associate brands with companies, services or products– but don’t always stop to think about their personal brand let alone how to build it.

This is a guest post from Jonathan Green.

“Jonathan is a culture evangelist who focuses on leadership development behaviors and communications strategies. His expertise is service models that provide world-class experience. He has worked in a variety of verticals including Finance, Utilities, Tech, and Telecom. Green has spent the last seven years working for a large Telecom provider and thoroughly enjoys the fast paced and ever-changing environment. Check out his blog at monsterleaders.com

As individuals, we actually have much more at stake as our brand is being observed, assessed and judged on a regular basis. In my work with young leaders, I carve out time out to help them consider their brand and to be deliberate about enhancing promoting it. The key is simplicity. Break it down into manageable parts.

1 – Image

2 – Behaviors

3 – Attitude

I usually start by relating the personal branding process to one of two topics that most of us have dealt with at one time or another: dating and cereal.

Dating

Consider the following:

When you go on a first date, what are you looking to teach your date about you?

… that your baggage is not as severe as that of her last boyfriend/girlfriend?

… that your brain functions at a normal capacity?

… that your hygiene practices are in line with conventional societal norms?

… that you are the kind of person they would want to live with until the end of time?

Your BRAND is on the line, and you are selling it. Your image is a mix of who you actually are and who you want the other person to believe you are. You don’t start a conversation with the worst decisions you have made in your life as you do not want to be defined by those. However, those are part of who you are, they are the scars and stripes that you carry with you all the time. So is your image true to yourself? Do your behaviors match your desired outcome? And most important, you have a choice in what attitudes you bring to the table is your attitude one that others want to subject themselves to?

Now, Mix in Cereal

Another way to look at it is to think of yourself as a brand of cereal.

Is it good for you? (do others want to be around you?)

Do you like the taste (do others enjoy talking to you, learning from you, sharing experiences with you?)

Is it made by a company that is safe and reputable (can you be trusted, do your behaviors build relationships?)

Some Easy Steps to get started

1. Ask yourself some questions
– How do I want to be viewed?
– What words do I want others to use to describe me?
– What words best describe the ideal me: reliable? intelligent? upbeat?…?

2. Reverse engineer your brand
– what behaviors must I exhibit to be viewed in this way?
– with whom should I be involved?
– where should I hang out?

3. Check it
– Do my behaviors reinforce my desired brand?
– What words are being used to describe me?

4. Who is promoting your brand?
– who is selling your brand, to whom and where?
– recruit some “sales people”

Encouraging young leaders to consider these questions can help set the stage for important inner dialogue and external changes. I have found that this work leads to amazing development, growth and a future driven by behaviors that matter.

Label With Care: Creating Possibilites Through Better Personal Branding

How we label ourselves matters. Sometimes we wear old labels without even noticing.

Years ago, I attended a diversity workshop with an exercise designed to get us thinking about labels. The main idea was that the more we talked about our differences in a safe environment, the better we would understand one another and get along. If we got along, our teams would be high-performing and results would follow.

We all were handed a stack of sticky labels and a marker. The first step was to list all the labels that we used to describe ourselves (mother, friend, change agent, energetic). We then placed these labels all over our bodies and walked around and talked about how we felt. The next step was to have others create labels for us based on how they saw us.

We then donned those stickies (with more discussion). This led to others giving us really nice labels (nice, kind, smart)… and a big group hug at the end. I must admit that although I love the concept, this was a bit corny, even for the HR gal (yup, one of the labels I was given)…but it was a snuggly day, and we all felt better and went back to work.

I hadn’t thought about that exercise in years. Until recently, when the image of the labelled swarms came rushing back.

I have been working with a few folks on broadening their career horizons. After years of being really, really good at what they are really, really good at, they are feeling stuck. They want to try new stuff, but they are being viewed so positively in one arena, people are having a hard time seeing the possibilities and other talents.

And then, I started seeing the truth in labeling. It is not always others putting the “stickies” on them. I began noticing that under pressure, the first label they put on is the most comfortable. “Oh, I can do that, I’m the ____ woman.” Leave it to me, I’ve got years of experience doing __” They keep putting on the tattered labels they claim they are trying to release.

When they see it, they do great work on repackaging.

How we talk about ourselves matters. We can label ourselves without even noticing. We’ve been saying the words so long, we forget the implications.

It might be time to refresh the label exercise, in a virtual way.

  • What labels do we put on first? Why?
  • What labels are we most proud of? Why?
  • Which labels do we want to discard? Why?
  • What labels are yearning to put on our forehead… next? Why?