A well-defined leadership brand communicates who you are and what you can bring to the table for your organization. It can give you the focus you need to deliver in the areas where you want to excel. A personal leadership brand is critical for your career success.
However, having a personal leadership brand is much more than just promoting yourself. As you’ll learn when you go back to school online to earn your Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management, your leadership brand is a statement of your value that you must believe in fully and embody in your daily work. In order to develop your leadership brand, you need to make sure that the image you’re trying to project matches the perception others have of you.
Determine the Value You Offer to Others
According to Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis, your leadership brand is “the total experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent as an individual.” In forging your personal brand, you need to be especially mindful of what others expect of you. It’s as though you were the producer of a popular television comedy — your viewers would likely be put off if you suddenly began covering serious topics. The people you interact with in your professional life expect a certain experience, too, and it’s your responsibility to give it to them.
You probably have some idea of the experience you’re offering others — or at least, you think you do. To see if your expectations match reality, ask a close friend or trusted colleague to write down the first five things that come to mind when he or she is with you. Make your own list of the five things you expect others to experience when they interact with you, based on the image you’d like to project. If your lists match, great — that means you’ve got your personal brand all squared away.
Develop – Or Change – Your Leadership Brand
Maybe you and a friend or colleague do the above exercise and you come up with completely different lists. Or maybe your lists match, but that doesn’t matter so much because you’ve been hoping to change your personal leadership brand to meet the expectations of a new role or to rev up your career. Either way, you’re going to have to change your brand.
Start by deciding what results you want to deliver in your role as a leader. Write them down. Then decide what you want to be known for in your field — write down six descriptive words that combine your strengths with qualities or skills that would be useful to you. Find out if you’ve chosen well by taking your list to peers, trusted team members and even your boss. Ask their opinion on whether someone in your role, or desired role, should exhibit these traits. Revise your list accordingly.
Next, use these six words to make three different two-word phrases that define the identity you’d like to assume. These phrases will help you paint a picture of what you want to be known for and how you’ll become known for it. For example, depending on your six words, you might decide you want to be “tirelessly innovative” or “strategically collaborative.” Ask your colleagues again for feedback.
Now, you’ll create a leadership brand statement. Your statement will read something like “I would like to be known for being blank in order to deliver blank at work.” In the first blank, you’ll insert your two-word phrases; in the second blank, you’ll insert the results you wrote down at the beginning of the exercise.
Remember, it’s important to make sure you can deliver on the promise this brand statement makes. If you don’t feel that you can really embody the qualities you express in your leadership brand statement, then it’s not the brand for you. You can’t fake a personal leadership brand. It has to be genuine, or it won’t work.
Furthermore, you still need to check in with others to make sure the image you’re trying to project is the same image they see. Take time to ask your colleagues how they see you. If they’re not seeing you the way you want to be seen, you need to work harder on living your leadership brand.
A personal leadership brand can help you focus on presenting your best professional face to your colleagues, subordinates and superiors. A well-defined, well-executed leadership brand ensures that others’ perception of you matches the image you’re trying to project. Once you have your brand pinned down, you’ll find it much easier to advance in leadership roles at work.