"In retrospect, it was ridiculous: I should have developed all my hotels under one name."
The speaker was Ian Schrager, in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. Often called the "father of the boutique hotel," he was discussing why he made a bad decision when he chose to create a chain of unique hotels each with a different "brand name." He says he now realizes that if he'd used just one name for all of his ventures, the combined value of his properties would have been significantly greater.
The same thing holds true for your career.
Over my years as a corporate leader, business coach, and consultant, I've known a ton of great executives as well as leaders of departments and companies. Those who have been the most conscious of the importance of their reputation, or "brand," usually enjoyed far greater success. I don't mean the glory-hogs or those who are calculatingly focused on getting credit first and foremost. I'm talking about competent players who just took a little time to ensure that they were properly recognized for their successes.
This doesn't mean that they didn't share the recognition for success with others who deserved it as well. Often, they would go out of their way to share. They just did it in a way that reinforced their value to the organization without taking away from the others involved. Done properly, it's a good management approach, while at the same time, a very smart career strategy.
Think about it:
If you're the boss and are looking for someone internally to head up an important department, take the lead on a new initiative, or make an existing area more efficient, you're going to look first at someone who has a reputation for getting things done.
Similarly, if you're a boss at another company looking to hire someone who can bring fresh thinking, you are going to find out if there is someone in the industry who has a great reputation — or brand — and go after her or him.
It's entirely to your benefit to build your brand.
In the Bloomberg article, Schrager notes that if he'd focused on a one-branding approach, it would have had the additional benefit of making it harder for competitors to steal his ideas and knock off his hotels' uniqueness. This is the case in corporate life as well. The good news is that this allows a large organization to "learn" and build on success of one individual to benefit the company. However, be aware of the copycat who then takes credit for the great idea while leaving you out of the equation. Taking credit is simply smart career management, so do whatever you can to be seen as the originator.
Here's to your future!
John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.