What is your leadership brand and what do you do with it?
One of the questions I often get asked is why a leader needs a personal brand, vision and strategy. Especially if they own or work for a company that has its own identifiers and direction.
Whether you realise it or not, you already have a personal brand — it’s what you say, what you do, how you behave, how you communicate and interact with others, how you think, what you stand for (and against) and the decisions you make.
You’ll have your perception and then there will be the perception of others, what their experience of you is like, how they feel about the actions you take, what you bring to a situation, whether you are authentic.
In fact your leadership brand contributes so much…
- it raises your profile and attracts attention
- it helps you to build relationships and develop trust
- it differentiates you from other people
- it’s your reputation and the impact you make
Your leadership brand will help you get recruited or win new business.
It will make the difference between whether you take people with you or not.
And it strengthens your business brand too.
It’s for all these reasons — and many more — that as a leader you need to have awareness of and work on your personal brand.
And I want to caveat this — I can hear you thinking but I don’t want to become something I’m not. I don’t want to be fake. But that isn’t what I’m suggesting at all. Having awareness and working on your brand is like any self-improvement exercise — we all learn, grow and develop — we’d be irrelevant if we didn’t.
Building your personal leadership brand is about understanding and making the most of your strengths, working on those areas that you feel are challenging, and learning how to share who you are and what you stand for in a way that connects with your people.
What makes up your leadership brand?
- first we have your vision and values: your why and what you stand for. This should be integral to everything you do. All your words and actions need to align with these.
- then we have how you position yourself: this is understanding where you pitch, who your audience is, the people you need to connect with to achieve your vision
- your expertise is another distinguishing part of your leadership brand. what you are and want to be known for
- and your personality and voice helps to set you apart — whether it’s formal, corporate, fun, sweary, how you talk, what you wear, the activities you take part in, your interests and hobbies. All of these are points of connection.
- linked to this is how you communicate and engage with people — this isn’t something that as a leader you leave to chance or solely to your corporate team, you need a plan and a rhythm so others can hear from you, better understand what you are doing and have the opportunity to get involved
- and finally, and most importantly, you need to continually reflect … on all the elements that make up your brand, where you want to get to with your career, how you want to make people feel for example.
But don’t sit in your little bubble — you need to know what other people think about you, how you come across to them, how connected they feel to your vision and ideas. There are lots of ways you can get that feedback, and sometimes what isn’t said is just as telling.
So there you have it — you know why your leadership brand is important and all the elements that contribute to it.