Did you ever realize that actors in films are essentially short term employees? The model for big Hollywood films is that actors lend their personal brands to a film as much as their acting ability, and in return the studios leverage those personal brands to get people interested in seeing a film. It is a traditional model, but it works and has for many years. Now think about your business and how you hire new employees or foster superstar employees today. Are you still only focusing on the skills and accomplishments of potential employees? More importantly, how are you treating your current employees who are actively building their personal brands through factors like having a personal blog, being part of online communities and generally having a strong identity online?
The problem with many organizations is that they don’t value personal brand builders enough. Often in the corporate world, as an employee raises their personal brand they are more likely to be treated with skepticism. Called self-promoters (or worse), these growing superstars are often alienated and driven out of organizations by managers or colleagues that feel threatened by them. Of course, some personal brand builders actually are rabid self-promoters to the detriment of the places they work. But the majority are genuinely strong performers who have the ability to use their personal social capital to be even better at their job if you can find a way to embrace them.
In Hollywood films, the production companies realize that what they are buying (in part) are the personal profiles of the actors in the film. They NEED their "employees" to have a strong personal brands. Sometimes it backfires with high profile meltdowns or personal issues on set. But most of the time it works and everyone makes money. Your business is no different. In the future, the brands that succeed will be the ones who employ the people who have the most social capital. Your next hire should be someone who not only has the right skills, but also a rapidly growing personal brand. The success your business can have in the social media era may depend on it.
UPDATE: Check out this great follow up post from Torley – "How to tell if your personality superstar is a narcissistic egomaniac."
UPDATE: Another good follow up generating lots of discussion from Geoff Livingston on the dangers of focusing too much on personal branding versus substance – "I don’t care about your personal brand."