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Your personal brand: Under fire

We can say what we want about ourselves, talk about our accomplishments, awards, honors but at some point our brand comes down to what we are when we are under duress, in the line of fire. The term itself comes from the military like so many business expressions. We’ve heard of leaders inspiring the troops to follow them into the trenches, or up the hill. This means that the leader has inspired enough trust in their troops to follow them into danger, uncertainly, potential harm.

Leadership is found everywhere
Leadership is found everywhere
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

I recently found myself in a situation where I had to take actions during a crisis while remaining composed to all around who were watching. I did everything I could to keep people calm, to handle the crisis carefully and respectfully of others while meeting the demands of outside authorities: no easy feat. Afterwards, I found myself wondering if I could have done things differently.

So what about our personal brand? When we are in a difficult position, how do we react? Do we run for cover, or blame the other person, or do we step forward to take responsibility for whatever happens? A true leader is just such a person, they are not afraid of taking the lead during a time of panic and dismay and they follow through logically on all necessary actions while taking the time to reassure the other group members that things are under control.

Each of us is faced at one time or another with such a situation and we learn from our reaction to that imminent danger or threat, what we are ultimately made of and whether we can face the difficulty with calm courage. Recently we have seen many cases of bystanders during a crisis coming forward to take charge and help others. They are a wonderful example of what people can be at a troubled time. Your personal response to danger can make the difference in how your brand is perceived. We seem to have a preference for the “strong, silent type” when we are facing adversity and those who can demonstrate equanimity in the line of fire stand out in our minds as the true leaders, dependable, reliable. It’s a good brand attribute to have, would you agree?

It helps to have strong sense of well-being and personal security, to take accountability and put the needs of others first. Your main responsibility at that moment is to keep things running, whether it’s in the workplace, or on a crowded street: you want to ensure that normal activities continue at a regular pace, even if your own heart is pounding. Projecting the appearance that everything is going as it normally does is another way to maintain the status quo. Once you have gone through such an experience, you suddenly learn something new about yourself and it becomes one more positive attribute of your personal brand.