5 Steps to Creating Your Leadership Brand

Just as businesses need to build their brands, so leaders need to build their leadership brand.

You probably already have a personal leadership brand. But do you have the right one? And is it the one that will take you from where you are to where you want to be?

This is an important question as it is your leadership brand that conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader. It communicates the value you offer. If you have the wrong leadership brand for the position you have or the position you want, then your work is not having the impact it could. A strong personal leadership brand allows all that’s powerful and effective about your leadership to become known to your colleagues, enabling you to generate maximum value.

What’s more, choosing a leadership brand can help give you focus. When you clearly identify what you want to be known for, it is easier to let go of the tasks and projects that do not let you deliver on that brand. Instead, you can concentrate on the activities that do.

Five Steps to Building Your Leadership Brand

  1. What results do you want to achieve in the next year?

The first thing you should do is ask yourself, “In the next 12 months, what are the major results I want to deliver at work?” Take into account the interests of these four groups:

  • Customers
  • Investors
  • Employees
  • The organization
  1. What do you wish to be known for?

What are the six key descriptors which you need to have to balance your strengths and qualities? A good way to do this is to ask your boss, peers and some of your most trusted subordinates. “What are the traits that someone in this role (and/or future role) should exhibit?” Their responses will help you to refine your list.  For example, the traits you ultimately select might include being collaborative, deliberate, independent, innovative, results-oriented and strategic.

  1. Define your identity

The next step is to combine these six words into three two-word phrases that reflect your desired identity. This exercise allows you to build a deeper, more complex description: not only what you want to be known for, but how you will probably have to act to get there. For example, the above six descriptors could be combined into the following three phrases:

  • Independently innovative
  • Deliberately collaborative
  • Strategically results-oriented

Test these ideas with your colleagues.

  1. Construct your leadership brand statement, and then test it.

In this step, you pull everything together in a leadership brand statement that makes a “so that” connection between what you want to be known for (Steps 2 and 3) and your desired results (Step 1). Fill in the blanks:

“I want to be known for being ______________ so that I can deliver __________.”

For example: “I want to be known for being independently innovative, deliberately collaborative and strategically results-oriented so that I can deliver superior financial outcomes for my business.”

With your leadership brand statement drafted, ask the following three questions to see if it needs to be refined:

  • 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?
  1. Make your brand identity real

To ensure that the leadership brand you advertise is embodied in your day-to-day work, check in with those around you. Do they see you as you wish to be seen? If you say you are flexible and approachable, do others find you so?

Share your personal leadership brand with others. Let people know your evolving as a leader and ask them for their feedback. The exercise of forging a leadership brand requires day-to-day discipline to make it real, the courage to make the changes you need to make, and humility to ask and take on the ideas and advice of others.

Your leadership brand isn’t static; it continually evolves to the different expectations you face at different times in your career. Leaders with the self-awareness and drive to evolve their leadership brands are more likely to be successful over the long term — and to enjoy the journey more.

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Be a Compelling Person!

What is a compelling person? Why do you want to be one? And how can you become one? A compelling person is one who, in dealing and interacting with others, has both strength and warmth. In short, these are:

  • Strength – a person’s capacity to make things happen with abilities and force of will. When people project strength, they command our respect.
  • Warmth is the sense that a person shares our feelings, interests, and view of the world. When people project warmth, we like and support them.
  • People who project both strength and warmth impress us as knowing what they are doing and having our best interests at heart, so we trust them and find them persuasive. They are compelling.

Strength and WarmthBeing both is not as simple as it seems, as strength and warmth are in direct tension with each other. Most of the things we do to project strength of character – such as wearing a serious facial expression, flexing our biceps etcetera – tend to make us seem less warm. Likewise, most signals of warmth – smiling often, speaking softly, doing people favours – can leave us seeming more submissive than strong.

Being a compelling person is a major ingredient to influencing people and building deep trust with people. So how can we overcome this tension and be perceived as compelling and become a more effective leader, and improve your career opportunities? Here are ten suggestions of things you can do,

Ten Suggestions to Becoming More Compelling

  1. Be level-headed = this is about being self-composed, sensible, having common sense and sound judgement. You feel comfortable to invite this person to a very difficult conversation knowing you will get a balanced view and a contextualized conversation.
  2. Respectful straightforwardness – you provide feedback in a direct, frank and constructive manner; similarly you are a good listener, listening to ensure that you understand the other person first rather than being understood yourself first.
  3. Courage and toughness – you demonstrate the strength of character and conviction to ensure consistency and fairness in a situation, even if the course of action you take is unpopular or unwelcome.
  4. Open minded – you are open to new ideas, no matter who or where they come from; at the same time you avoid adopting biased views and don’t carry past baggage into the future with you.
  5. Self-control – you exercise good self-control at all times, and don’t let yourself become hijacked by your emotions.
  6. Non-judgmental – you listen and discuss matters without pre-judging the people or the situation.
  7. Conscientiousness – you do things thoroughly and well. You appear efficient, organized and dependable; in doing so you consistently deliver reliability.
  8. Forward looking – you look beyond the past and today, and you do not let them hold you back, with a focus on the future and how you can influence it.
  9. Assertive, not aggressive – you are able and willing to stand your ground and make your point without, in doing so, diminishing the other person or their arguments.
  10. Being a safe haven – as a compelling person others are comfortable in talking with you openly, frankly and honestly. They see that you will give the best advice they can, even if you do not like it.

How do you rate yourself on these ten aspects of being a compelling person? What can you do to improve? Share this with your team and reports and use it a basis for opening useful and insightful individual and team discussions and become more compelling yourself in doing so.

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)