Welcome back to Leader Talk! In episode 49 we spoke to the inspiring Amanda Rose, Founder of Business Woman Media, Founding Director of Western Sydney Women and Western Sydney Executive Women, Managing Director of Western Sydney Advisory, Founder and CEO of Small Business Women Australia.
As one of the most influential people on LinkedIn, Amanda has been quoted as an “internet winning blogger” by TIME.com and regularly contributes to ABC The Drum, Huffington Post, Marie Clare, CEO Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, AFR and SkyBusiness.
Amanda has been working with businesses to help either solve internal and multi-level conflict, build confidence individually and as a team, or train leaders in resilience and transform workplace culture.
In this episode we chatted about the importance of identifying your core values, how to improve your personal and professional branding and how to form strategic connections that benefit your business.
Want to learn more? You can read or listen to our chat with Amanda Rose on YouTube, Spotify, Listen Notes, or Player FM. It’s also available anywhere you listen to your favourite podcasts via Buzzsprout.
Becoming a better, more ethical leader is about identifying your core values and never losing sight of them. Self-reflection and analysis are essential to improving as a leader. Nobody is born the perfect leader. Instead, it takes time, commitment and an understanding that improving your leadership capabilities is an ongoing process.
A core part of being a good leader and small to medium-sized business owner is having confidence. Having confidence in your abilities and business are essential to your overall success. To gain confidence and become self-assured in your decision-making, it once again comes back to understanding your core values. Once you identify what you know is right and wrong, you can make more informed and confident decisions. This isn’t always an easy process but once mastered, can revolutionise your business practices.
When you are confident, your professional and personal brand benefits. In business, it can be easy to merge your professional and personal branding – but I would advise against this (unless you are strategically leveraging your life to build your business). When you merge your personal life with your business’s branding, not only can it feel like you never have time away from work, but it can also create problems in the future. Making tough business decisions can become challenging when your personal life has to be factored in. Additionally, selling your business in the future becomes almost impossible if its success and structure hinge on your personal branding. While it can be difficult, I would always advise a clear divide between your personal and professional branding if you want to future-proof your business’s success.
Having a clear professional and personal brand makes it much easier to network effectively. When you have identified exactly what your goals are, who you are and what your business offers, you can begin to strategically connect with other business owners and professionals. Knowing your personal values and having clear personal and professional branding will make it much easier to connect and grow, rather than wasting your time at networking events that never eventuate into anything meaningful.
Identifying your core values
If there is one piece of business advice I would give to business owners of any size, it would be to understand your core values and stick to them. Finding your values is a private journey and one that is extremely necessary. Reflect on how you grew up, what you believe is right and wrong, and what you believe in. Your values are unique to you and should be what define your business practices.
Often you will find that if the business world accepts you and your values, then you probably are believing in the wrong things. This is because the business world likes easy money, poor business ethics and lies. It’s, therefore, much more challenging to run a successful business when you have strong moral values. But this is why you should keep going and stay true to your personal morals and ethics. We need more ethical businesses, and by staying true to your values you can lead the way and be the change.
Ethical leadership is simply doing the right thing without justifying it. It’s a rare thing to be an ethical leader, but it’s the right thing to do and important for the success of your business. When you aim to be an ethical leader you will find your confidence grows too. Once you define your personal values, making decisions becomes easier as you only accept an opportunity if it aligns with your ethics.
Ethical leaders have stronger connections with their colleagues, which supports a better working environment and helps to improve your business’s long-term success. This is because being an ethical leader may be more difficult but ultimately is better for business in the long run. Employee retention, customer connection and positive brand awareness are all areas that ethical leadership supports.
Ethics is grounded from the beginning of your leadership. It begins by saying no to opportunities that don’t align with your values and yes to opportunities that do. Saying yes to opportunities is only beneficial if they align with your goals and ethics. The minute you dilute your values, then your ethical leadership dilutes. Stay strong and remain true to who you are.
Improving your personal and professional branding
It’s very important to develop both a personal and professional branding. I have always found women struggle with this aspect the most, as it can be difficult to separate their personal lives with their professional ones. Sometimes, it can feel dishonest to not share your personal life with everyone, but I encourage you to find a healthy divide.
Many leaders and business owners speak about the need to be vulnerable. But I think they are often confusing vulnerability with relatability. You don’t need to share the most vulnerable aspects of your personal life with people; that’s not a necessary part of business. Instead, share aspects that may be relatable. Do you juggle looking after children as well as working full-time? If so, rather than telling others the nitty gritty details about your children and your routine, simply share that you also find it difficult to balance full-time work with family life. This enables people to relate to you without making your personal life your entire brand.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to tell the world everything unless it’s relevant to your business. Your professional brand should be solely focused on your business and what it can do for others, with a touch of relatability. While your personal brand is focused on who you are, there should still be separation from your life away from your business. When you begin merging your personal life with your business branding it can cause problems.
I often see people who have strong followings on social media share every aspect of their personal struggles to convert this engagement into sales. This is because people are more invested in your personal life rather than your products or business. The minute you mix the two you have lost both your life and business. Separate life from business so even when life changes, your business can remain strong and successful.
Strategic connections to better your business
How many times have you gone to a networking event and left it feeling like you wasted three to four hours of your life? Probably many times. This is why I always recommend strategic connections over networking events.
Strategic connecting simply means connecting with purpose. Networking is like going to war without the right equipment; you won’t achieve anything positive or meaningful. Strategic connecting is all about knowing who you want to meet, why you want to meet them and how you will keep the connection going. Whether you want to learn from them, or they can help with your business in another way, strategic connections can help you succeed.
Sometimes people will tell me that strategic connecting sounds aggressive but it’s not – it’s simply business. There’s nothing aggressive about identifying a person who you think can help you in some way and pursuing them. Whether that’s connecting with them on LinkedIn or sending a message across on social media, making contact is the first step. To truly succeed in connecting with others, you need to follow up with them and research them online. Just like you wouldn’t turn up to a job interview without any knowledge about the company, you also shouldn’t meet someone without first learning a little about them.
Overall, strategic networking is about being more efficient with your time. As business leaders, we are always busy. Rather than waste time at networking events that don’t go anywhere, start to focus on quality connections that will benefit you and your business.
To be a better leader, you need to hone in on your values. Self-reflect and analyse what your personal ethics are. Always remember, once you begin diluting your ethics you begin diluting your leadership. Identify your values and stick to them. This will not only ensure you’re an ethical leader, but it will also improve your confidence and decision-making capabilities.So, what values define you?