Do You Have a Personal Leadership Brand?

Do You Have a Personal Leadership Brand?
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What Is a Personal Leadership Brand?
A personal leadership brand is what you stand for as a leader. It differentiates you from other leaders according to your own unique value, and it allows others to know what to expect from you. It is your reputation, and it reflects your priorities, your values, and how you show up as a leader.

Your personal leadership brand is how others see you. Ideally, one of the first steps for new leaders is to clearly define what kind of leader they want to be, how they want to show up, and where they want to improve.

The good news is that experienced leaders and new managers have the power to develop and shape their personal leadership brand.

Does Your Personal Leadership Brand Matter?
Yes. What you stand for as a leader has enormous influence over how far you can go and in what direction. How people perceive you as a leader can strengthen or hinder your ability to succeed. Your reputation as a leader distinguishes you from others and communicates how you add value to the people and the business.

If your personal leadership brand is unclear or misaligned with your role, team norms, the company’s values, the business strategy, or the corporate culture, your impact and future career opportunities will be minimized. A strong personal leadership brand helps leaders focus on what matters most while achieving maximum value and impact.

Five Steps to Create an Effective Personal Leadership Brand
Creating a personal leadership brand is both about who you are and who you hope to become in the eyes of others. We know from our leadership simulation assessments that the key is authenticity, not just optics. Before you begin to define your personal leadership brand, you need to understand how others see you now. Here is how to start:

  1. Know Yourself
    Self-awareness as a people leader matters.  When leaders see themselves clearly, research shows that they communicate more effectively, make better decisions, and build stronger teams.  Although most leaders believe that they are self-aware, true leadership self-awareness is hard to come by. 

    Consider conducting a leadership 360, make it easy to receive feedback from others, and reflect upon what matters most to you personally and professionally.

    — What do you want to be known for?

    — What results do you want to achieve in the next 12 to 24 months?

    — What is it that you love about your work?

    — What would you rather not have to do?

    Answers to these questions should inform your brand as a leader.
  2. Draft and Test a Leadership Brand Statement
    Most brand statements sound like: “As a leader, I want to be known as standing for ______________ so that I can achieve/deliver __________.”

    For example, one leader in a recent action learning leadership development program wrote a personal brand statement that read: “I want to be known for being impactful and making those around me better so that I can grow people and the business in a way that makes sense.”

    Above all else, make sure that your brand statement is authentic to who you are and who you want to be.  Then make sure that it can work in your company’s unique culture.  Ask others if they think you can successfully and consistently live the brand and be successful at the same time.
  3. Live Your Leadership Brand
    Whether it’s on LinkedIn or the company website bio, make sure that your online persona aligns with your leadership brand.  Realize that each and every interaction is an opportunity for you to live or break your brand promise.  Act with intention and ask for feedback about how well you are delivering on your brand promise. 

    Make sure that you have a good handle on how you are doing at all times.
  4. Find a Truth Partner and Hold Yourself Accountable
    Living a leadership brand is not always easy.  Choose a colleague or friend you can count on to be truthful about how others really perceive you. Solicit their help in guiding you toward your goals. What do they recommend you do more or less to live your desired brand?

    Check regularly to make sure you are on the right track and to hold yourself accountable to make progress in the right direction. Are your behaviors as a leader supporting the values and goals that you espouse?
  5. Fill In the Gaps
    It is a never-ending process to ensure that you live your desired leadership brand in day-to-day interactions.   Additionally, leadership brands typically evolve over time as roles, responsibilities, and aspirations shift.  Be smart about identifying and filling in the interpersonal, intellectual, and motivational competency gaps required to live who you want to be as a leader.

The Bottom Line
If you don’t define, live, and take ownership of your personal leadership brand, others will do it for you.  If you want to maximize your career and your impact as a leader, be intentional about authentically creating and living your image as a leader.

To learn more about being an effective leader, download 8 Reasons Why Leaders Need 360 Feedback

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