Fact is: You already have a Brand, whether you are aware or actively taking control over it – others do it for sure.
The question is though: ‘Do you have a brand that truly represents you who you are, what you stand for and what you want others to associate when thinking of you?’
Be(com)ing a leader requires more than just getting the title for it.
Leaders have the responsibility to not only take care of themselves, their confidence and their approach of doing things because this is what got others attracted to them in the first place to follow.
But it is also about identifying others’ strengths and empower them to be(come) a better version of themselves.
There is no second chance for a first impression
A Personal Brand stands for who you are, your personal values and believes, your mission in this world and your take on solving problems for others.
A Leadership Brand conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader in a particular environment, like an organization and a role at the time.
Having the wrong brand, ie having people associating the wrong values and attributes with you, will never get you to where you want to be. You won’t be able to make the same impact on others as you - highly likely - don’t just attract the wrong followers but also the wrong behaviors.
Starve your distractions. Feed your focus.
As much as leadership and branding is for others, it is also for you – it helps you to focus and avoid getting side tracked by all those shiny and sparkly distractions that constantly pop into our lives.
Once you have nailed what your true values are, what you want to be known for and how your approach is unique in solving other people’s problems, it is easier to let go of the tasks and projects that don’t let you deliver on that brand (promise) that makes you unique.
Instead, you can concentrate on the activities that do and do more of them.
So how do you build a leadership brand?
By asking yourself the right questions!
1. What is really important to you in your life, personally and professionally?
Write down attributes, emotions and situations that give you a positive feeling. It can be associated with your job, eg: travelling for work internationally or working 1:1 with your clients and staff instead of a large group of people… Private attributes could be ‘leading an active lifestyle by example by spending 2h each day with kids being out and about’ …
Once you have thought of your ideal day, who, why and what you would love to have and how these situations make you feel like, you can then ‘categorise’ them on their importance at this particular stage in your life.
Not all of them are equally important all the time as you go through stages in your life that make things change, hence also this list is a working paper that will change over time to fit in with your lifestyle.
But for now, this exercise will show you what is important to you, why and what you stand for - in a very practical and resonating way as you associate your values with actual feelings, situations and real life examples.
Whilst it may not be 100% associated already with your leadership brand, it makes it easier to get a clear understanding of who you are and later on, a clearer indication whether you are on the right track when defining your leadership brand.
2. What results do you want /are expected from you to achieve in the next year?
Once you are clear with your perfect world and your values, ask yourself, “In the next 12 months, what are the major results I want to deliver and achieve?”
Important to note is that this question is not exclusive to those already in a leadership role or a corporate career. You can also be an entrepreneur, a leader of your own life, starting out and aiming to dominate the world of entrepreneurship.
To make it easier to start, think of all the stakeholders you will be working with, in some shape or form, and break it down into 4 groups:
· Clients and Customers
· Investors, Affiliates and Partners/Co-Founders
And here comes the main difference between Personal and Leadership Brand:
Whilst we need to draw on our strengths to succeed in the role we (want to) have,
a Leadership Brand is outward focused;
it is about delivering results for others
in a particular environment in the first place.
So get clear of the expectations on you from those you are working with and serving.
If you don’t know what is expected of you, what good looks like and how you are going to be measured as (un)successful leader, all your strengths are worthless, unutilized or wasted and you can’t play them to your advantage.
3. What do you want to be known for?
You might know that your peers and staff respect you for your technical skills and knowledge but you also realise that they wouldn’t come to you in the first place when facing a problem.
Having a disconnection between technical and emotional / soft skills also means a brand association that potentially doesn’t represent who you really are and what you want others to think of you which again, won’t bring you very far in your leadership journey.
Time to get practical
With that in mind, pick 6-10 descriptors that balance the qualities that come naturally to you with those that would be critical in your new position and the expectations on you. Organisations, roles and industries are different, so you need to be aware of it and align them with your strengths for this particular situation.
Also get feedback from others – the ones who are a trusted and honest sources like your boss, your colleagues and subordinates but also get an objective opinion from a career coach or a mentor.
It is as simple as asking them “Are these the traits you would expect a General Manager in this organization to have?”
You will see that these responses will help you refine your list to ultimately include the traits that truly and entirely represents your (leadership) brand.
4. Get nitty and gritty: Defining and refining your statement.
Knowing what you stand for is important but knowing your unique ‘how to’ is equally important. Hence the next step is to combine your 6-10 words with phrases that reflect your desired identity and make it clearer how you reflect those traits. For example, your identified values are:
Now add to the phrases your ‘how to’: How are you empowering? Maybe you want to choose ‘collaboratively empowering’ or ‘independently innovative’ to describe your approach.
5. Construct and deconstruct your leadership brand statement.
In this step, you pull everything together to form your leadership brand statement that makes a “so that” connection between what you want to be known for (Steps 3 and 4) and your desired results (Step 2). Fill in the blanks:
“I want to be known for being ______________ so that I can deliver __________.”
Once you have (hand!) written (as it activates more and different parts of your brain) your statement, go back and ask yourself the following questions to see if it needs any tweaking:
- Is this the brand identity that best represents who I am and what I can do?
- Is this brand identity something that creates value in the eyes of my stakeholders?
- What risks am I taking by exhibiting this brand? Can I live this brand?
6. You need to be in it to win it
Saying something is one thing, doing it is another.
Whilst you can have the perfectly defined brand – when you don’t live and breathe it, obvious for others, you will do more damage than good.
Your brand stands for something you promise to deliver. So when others don’t see it, your brand will get questioned, people won’t follow you and eventually will lose trust in you and your abilities.
To ensure that the leadership brand you put out there is aligned with your day-to-day work, ask the ones who know best: those around you and be open to frank feedback.
Do they see you the way you want to be seen? If you say you are innovative and entrepreneurial, do others find you so and if so, why? Which actions prove it?
Don’t forget: this exercise of leadership brand development should not be a once off exercise - but an ongoing process. Make sure you keep it real by asking for feedback regularly to ensure you and your brand are still on track to deliver this promise.
If you get stuck with identifying your leadership brand and / or how to align it with your personal brand, get in touch!
We help you to identify your unique uniqueness and work with you on translating it in a strong online and offline presence so you can make an impaCCCt. Are you ready? We are! Click here to get in touch!