Here’s What Would Happen if More Leaders Embraced Their Flaws

December 8, 2016, 6:57 PM UTC
Man with arms outstretched in rain
Man with arms outstretched in rain
Sam Edwards—Getty Images

The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “What’s the best way to manage your personal brand?” is written by Lindsay Pattison, global CEO of Maxus.

Your brand matters. In the advertising industry, it is a message we are constantly telling our clients. But as executives, we often forget that our own brands matter just as much. I’d also argue that being a female exec right now is a brilliant opportunity to use the momentum around gender equality—but it means that more than ever, you need to be true to yourself, not one of the crowd. Having a strong, personal brand allows you to show clients, colleagues, and even future employers exactly who you are and what you bring to the table before you’ve even opened your mouth.

Here are some of my tips for making sure you do just that:

Talk about what you care about
Behind every strong and well-established brand is an authentic message—a singular belief or set of values that define the brand. The same should be true of your personal brand: When your name comes up in the boardroom, what are the key beliefs and messages you want others to associate with you? To do this, you must talk about what you want to talk about—choose the specialist subjects you’re most passionate about, and stick to discussing these topics. Repetition is key: You create a groundswell of others repeating what you want to be said about you. It’s best not to dilute the message too much by talking about wildly varying subjects.

See also: The First Step to Building a Strong Personal Brand

Bring your voice to social media
Beyond buttoned-up corporate accounts, use your own social channels to show your personality—your human side. Use these channels to build relationships. People respond to people, and everyone (at work and beyond) will be more likely to engage with you if they feel they have gotten some insight into who you are and what you’re all about.

Be sure to bring a unique voice to the table, as well. For instance, on Twitter (TWTR) (my favorite medium), I don’t just retweet others—I add my opinion. Offer your take on an interesting news story and ask your followers for their perspectives. Mention the people you want to reach in your tweets and posts, too—especially high-profile organizations. They will likely retweet or respond to you, turning their followers into your audience.

Work with your company
It may seem like a given, but growing your personal brand should never detract from growing your company’s brand. The two should always be working hand-in-hand. Building your profile will amplify your company’s fame, and, as a leading executive, you should ensure that your own thought leadership platform plays a key role in your agency or firm’s marketing plan.


Over the course of my career, I have learned to step in front of the work, understanding that the person, not the work, is the most vital component. The work must be brilliant, of course, but you also have to know how to own it. Use your company’s accomplishments as proof points to show exactly what you’re capable of—to persuade people to believe in you.

Embrace your flaws
Finally, remember that even the strongest brands and the most inspirational leaders have weaknesses and idiosyncrasies, and it’s okay to share these with others. In fact, owning up to your mistakes and showing your flaws makes you even more approachable. Every great brand and leader knows when to reveal and emphasize its differences, so capitalize on what makes you unique—flaws and all.

Pattinson is not an investor of Twitter.

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