Image, Brand and Reputation
How are you perceived? How do you want to be perceived? Do they match? Image is the perception others form about you, how they perceive you. It is based on what you do (or don’t do) and the impressions you make on people. Image is based on a number of factors that include your behavior, body language, speaking style as well as formal status and physical appearance. Sad but true, we all make judgments about other people with only surface information about them. And we know from research that those first impressions are lasting. In this respect, image isn’t just a surface issue.
Brand is what people expect when they buy a service or product from you. Brand tells the consumer (in this case, the patient) what they can expect when they deal with you. It’s an implied agreement - when I buy this, I get that. How those expectations are met becomes your reputation. It’s a value perception. If your brand doesn’t live up to expectations, patients go somewhere else.
It’s important to take a good, hard look at the image you project in your office and in your community. Furthermore, it’s not only your actions that form your image, but also the actions of your employees. With so much at stake don’t leave it to chance. Take charge of what you are projecting. It’s not about creating a fake persona but really understanding the image you want to portray, gaining a clear picture of how people see you and developing the skills to close the gap.
As marketing professionals know, formal focus groups are necessary to find out what people really think. It doesn’t matter what people have to say when they are in a logical, analytical mode. What really matters is how they feel about you. It’s essential to know this if you’re going to become more effective, in business and in life. Should you seek out feedback from your employees? Absolutely. But since people will very rarely take the risk of criticizing their boss, you need to figure out a way to get honest feedback on how you’re doing.
Marshall Goldsmith, a leadership coach to top executives in many of the world’s leading companies, has a process that he calls feed forward. He believes that there is a fundamental problem with all types of feedback: it focuses on a past, on what has already occurred - not on the infinite variety of opportunities that can happen in the future. As such, feedback can be limited and static, as opposed to expansive and dynamic. He has developed a process for his clients to solicit information about how they can improve. Although it is deceptively simple at first blush, it is an amazingly powerful and safe way to get information for the future.
As an introduction, it is important to tell your employees that you are working on becoming a better leader. Otherwise your search for feed forward will be confusing. Then say: “Give me two things I can do to be a better boss.” Listen to their suggestions, even write them down. Learn as much as you can. Refrain from any commentary or rebuttals. Simply say “Thank you.”
Pay attention to the themes in your feed forward. Identify one behavior you would like to change that would make a significant positive difference in your practice. How you “show up” to work, the persona you present and how you mold your team - these are factors that contribute to your brand. Brand is the identifiable image that is reflected in what you do and how you do it. It is the foundation of your reputation. It’s how others view you, from patients to employees and vendors, and even your community. An image is not simply a logo or a trademark. It’s much more important than that. Build yours with purpose.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at email@example.com
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