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Building your leadership brand can boost your career and position you for greater success.
I am going to name a few brands, and I want you to think about what immediately comes to your mind.
These company names probably brought to mind images of their products or feelings and emotions you associate with each.
Now, let’s try the same exercise for popular leaders.
Similarly, as you think about each leader, you probably visualized their faces, thought about what each was most known for, or associated an emotion with each.
What is a leadership brand?
That’s essentially how leadership brand works too.
A leadership brand is what you are known for as a leader.
It includes your reputation and what people think about when they hear your name.
And it is how you differentiate yourself – specifically what you uniquely offer or bring to the table.
Your leadership brand consists of your:
- Demonstrated values
- Leadership presence
- Impact on others
A leadership brand is not what you state on your resume or even your elevator pitch. But rather it is truly about how other people experience you as a leader.
Tania (one of my clients) is a director of operations at a mid-size manufacturing company. Tanya led a team of 8 managers and about 250 people across multiple locations.
Tanya had a few goals when we started our coaching work, including improving her executive presence and managing up since wanted to be a vice president within the next 5 years.
At first, Tania was adamant that she had a strong reputation for being a good leader and a great communicator.
She believed her only communications challenge was becoming nervous and tongue tied in the presence of senior executives.
So Tania felt that her strong and effective communication style was a key part of her leadership brand.
Yet, when we asked her team and peers for input, their expressed a different view.
When we spoke with others about Tania, most acknowledged she tried to be a thoughtful leader but oftentimes created chaos amongst team members because she did not communicate her expectations clearly. She also frequently “forgot to cascade” directions from senior management which left her team “spinning”.
Tania’s story demonstrates that how you see yourself as a leader can sometimes be very different from how others see you.
But is is how others see you that matters most when it comes to your leadership brand.
Why Is Leadership Brand Important?
In the world of work, leadership brand is extremely important and directly affects your ability to:
- be effective on the job
- get access to resources
- be considered for new opportunities
- receive and maintain the respect of your team, peers, and boss
- influence those around you, including others with decision making authority
- increase the chances of having your needs met (ie, compensation, work schedule flexibility)
- and more
Your leadership brand impacts how you interact with others and make decisions.
One challenge all leaders face is trying to balance being a hands-on subject matter expert in their specialty area versus being a leader of employees or team members.
The tug of war for most leaders between these two hats is very real and always constant.
However, the more your job requires you to wear your “leader” hat versus your subject matter expert hat, the more important leadership brand becomes.
In fact, usually as you broaden your role, take on additional responsibilities, or get promoted, leadership brand becomes more critical to your success.
How Can You Build Your Leadership Brand?
For better or for worse, you probably already have a leadership brand.
And like many others, you may believe your current brand aligns with how you try to “show up” at work every day.
And that may, in fact, be the case.
But it is also possible that differences exist between how you see yourself and how others see you.
The good news is that building your leadership brand happens over time, allowing for ongoing opportunities to shape and increase alignment.
A few important steps for building your leadership brand include:
- Understanding Your Current Brand.
- Identifying Your Leadership Values
- Establishing Your Leadership Vision of Success.
- Determining Where Your Actions & Outcomes Align (Or Don’t Align) With Your Values & Vision
- Making Adjustments to Live The Leadership Brand You Aspire To
Understanding your current brand is a great place to start. You can accomplish this by gathering honest input from your peers and direct reports via interviews or a poll/survey.
You could also take a behavioral leadership assessment for additional objective data.
I strongly recommend that you find a mentor or coach to support you in building your leadership brand in conjunction with developing a career plan.
The two go hand in hand and should both be determined by your short and long term professional goals.
Your leadership brand is very important in your current position and as you aspire to new and different work opportunities.
And therefore should never be underestimated.
It is within your power to create the leadership brand you want. So be deliberate with your words, actions, values, and decisions.