You may not know it, but you probably have a leadership brand already. A leadership brand conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader – it is what you are known for, and how people would describe you when you walk into a room.
As branding a product can increase market share, developing your leadership brand can increase mindshare among customers, partners and employees. Having a strong leadership brand – one that truly articulates the leadership value you offer – ensures your key stakeholders think about you the way you want them to think, and maximizes your leadership effectiveness. If developed properly, leadership brand can become your biggest and most valuable ‘professional’ asset – something you will take with you throughout your career.
Want to shape your leadership brand? Try this approach*:
1. Consider the corporate brand – as a leader in a company, you should be an extension of the corporate leadership brand, and the more senior you are, the closer the fit needs to be between corporate and personal brand. Examples of corporate leadership brands include Google (technology leadership), Apple (innovative leadership) and American Express (global leadership).
2. Articulate your personal brand – focus on descriptors and traits that come naturally to you and that are critical to your role. Think about words or phrases that explain your core motivation and strategies, and themes that tell a story. Ask yourself:
- What do I value above all else?
- What makes me tick/what are my passions?
- What do I represent?
- What is unique about me?
- What is my call to action?
3. Adjust your brand – check for congruence. Ask others if this brand evokes you. Is it aligned with your actions and words? Are you measuring up to your desired leadership brand? Ask yourself if this is what you want to be, or if you can even higher.
4. Live your brand – a brand is a promise, one that you make and fulfill, over and over. Be true to yourself, understand your strengths and liabilities and don’t try to be all things to all people.
One way to construct your leadership brand statement (as recommended by Norm Smallwood in “Define Your Personal Leadership Brand in Five Steps”) is: “I want to be known for being ___________________ so that I can deliver _________________”. Once your leadership brand statement is drafted, ask yourself:
- 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 organization and key stakeholders?
- What risks am I taking by exhibiting this brand? Can I live this brand?
*Developed by Karen Lam, Compass International
Written by Kathryn Grant