Brand YOU

Leadership Brand ZebraWhat is meant by your leadership brand and why it’s important?

For starters, your leadership brand is how you convey value. It’s the distinct set of talents and personality traits for which you are known. Your leadership brand is reinforced by how you “show-up” and behave on a daily basis.

If I were to ask you to select key words to describe the leadership brand of Elon Musk, for instance, you’d likely say, “Brilliant Innovator,” or “Whacky Inventor.” If I asked you the same question about Sheryl Sandberg, you might say, “Confident Change Agent,” or “Role Model.”

If I ask you to choose one or two words to describe your leadership brand, what would you say?

Much like the brand for a product or service, your leadership brand helps other people understand your differentiating strengths and highlights your key value. If you don’t convey your leadership brand clearly, prospective employers, stakeholders, peers and clients are on their own to interpret your value. Lack of clarity about your differentiating expertise may lead to confusion or create a mediocre impression.

How to identify your professional leadership brand
Recognizing what you are known and valued for is job one to understanding your leadership brand.

Many people can easily identify their claim to fame and find themselves in jobs that capitalize on that value. Other times, it’s not quite as obvious. Your value may be clouded because you’re in a position that isn’t taking advantage of your strengths, or working for an organization with a culture that does not match your values.

If you feel unclear about your leadership brand, ask a couple of trusted advisors or colleagues. Or consider an assessment, like Strength Finder or CareerLeader, to help you hone in on your primary assets. To really ensure you are not too inside your own head, a 360 assessment that invites input from your stakeholders is an even better approach.

While this is in no way an exhaustive list, and provided for example only, you might identify with one or two of these leadership brands:

ValuedLeadershipBrandExamples

Understanding your leadership brand is a critical guidepost to the roles you take on and the type of company for which you work. Not every company values a “People Developer,” for instance, and some have no patience for “Process-Gurus.”

Of course, there is the flip side…not-so-valued leadership brands, might include:

NotVluedLeadershipBrandExamples

The point is to first identify your leadership brand (aspirational or reality), then to behave in a way that reinforces (or dispels) that brand.

To assess if and how your behavior matches your brand, start by examining how you communicate andCallOutQuoteBrandYouBlogPost interact with others. If your value is that of Process-Guru, for instance, you might ask the following about how you handle typical day-to-day communications:

  • Do I begin and end meetings on time?
  • Do I send an agenda with objectives ahead of time?
  • Have I circled the wagons beforehand to cull objections and solutions?
  • Does everyone know his/her role?
  • Does someone follow up with action items and hold people accountable for commits?
  • Have we instilled rules of engagement for email? Who needs to be cc:d?
  • What is the acceptable response time for responding to internal/external constituents (phone or email)?

If your brand is that of People Developer, you could ask yourself the following:

  • How much time do I spend coaching team members on their professional development goals?
  • Do I hold to a regular meeting cadence with individuals on my team, and the team itself?
  • Do I ensure everyone gets a voice at the table during meetings?
  • What am I role modeling by way of time management? Am I sending email over the weekend, for instance?
  • Do I check my phone for email, texts or Twitter while I’m meeting with team members?
  • Do I allow my team to make mistakes? Do I reprimand via email?

Several of these questions can be used to assess to what degree your actions are supporting your brand and, thereby, reinforcing or minimizing your brand impact.

While we all might not achieve the visibility of an Elon Musk or Sheryl Sandberg, we have the same opportunity to identify, communicate and leverage our value daily. Understanding and embracing your leadership brand helps you align with the roles you choose and the organizations for which you work AND lead to a happier, more fullfilling career. And what’s not to love about that idea!

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Comments

  1. So many important points, Jacqueline; great post. In this era of immediacy, we need to articulate our leadership brand clearly, effectively and efficiently. And asking ourselves the questions you pose about our behavior ensures that we “walk the talk” and ensures our authenticity.

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