At the 2008 Belbin Conference in Cambridge, Thebe Ikalafeng, director of Brand Leadership Ltd, discussed using Belbin and positive branding on an individual level to promote our individual identity.
The importance of accurate personal ‘branding’ is an interesting concept. We like to think about it this way: if you are at the local supermarket and you buy a can of “spicy hot and sour” soup, you take it home along with a set of expectations. When you get home and taste the soup, you expect hot and spicy flavors. If the soup instead is “creamy potato leek”, you will inevitably be disappointed. As much as you may like creamy potato leek soup, you were expecting hot and spicy based on the soup’s branding.
We have found the same to be true with people: when an individual presents themselves in a coherent fashion (aware of their personal strengths, and projecting these strengths to others), others know what to expect from them. Individuals who can identify and play to their strengths are much more likely to have a consistent identity or “brand” that they project to others.
For example, with Plant and Resource Investigator in my preferred roles, I should be branding myself as “the ideas guy” – coming up with new ideas, and reaching outside of the organization to bring in external ideas. When I am aware of my strengths and share them with others I am more likely to have other people see me the way that I see myself (this is what we call coherence).
The Belbin Assessment is a great tool for both identifying your strengths (you may even have hidden strengths), and increasing your coherence. As you can see below, this page (from the Belbin Report of the fictitious “Sonny Sigma”) displays how Sonny sees himself (Self-Perception) versus how others see him (Observers).
By comparing sizes of pie segments, or the percentages at the bottom of the page, we can see that Sonny identifies himself as a very strong Monitor Evaluator (the shrewd decision maker – represented here by the gray pie piece), while others see him as only a reasonable example of the type. Sonny’s observers also see him as being quite a strong Plant (the yellow pie piece), perhaps this is a hidden strength, which Sonny is not aware of. If Sonny were to try out the Plant role, he may find that he is successful in it, thereby reinforcing the fact that it is a strong role for him — and his observers may see even more of it!
We believe that coherence is one of the most important factors in personal development. The more you play to your strengths, the more others are likely to remember you as “the ideas guy” (or whatever your strengths are) and come to you. When you play your strongest roles, you will succeed in them and reinforce your strengths to others, and therefore reinforce your personal “brand”.
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