Bring Your Authentic Self into Your Leadership Brand
Sutton Full Potential Founder
Your career advancement and growth as a business leader depends largely on how you develop a personal brand, one that is unique to you.
A leader’s personal brand needs to represent the value they are constantly delivering to their audience i.e. the people they are serving. At the same time, personal brand does not translate into self-promotion. In other words, you don’t need to blow a trumpet about your success and achievements to earn credibility.
The ever-expanding social media and quick changing technologies have made it crucial for both businesses and individuals to create a unique, clear and strong personal brand. Leaders, in particular, cannot afford to go unnoticed. A credible brand is important for them to earn respect and recognition.
Developing a Leadership Brand
According to Sterling Marketing Group CEO, Karen Leland, a strong leadership brand is not just about what is spoken or seen superficially. It is an authentic and deep expression of one’s values, contribution and purpose, backed by genuine action. Leland has also formulated ‘The Brand Mapping Strategy’.
Some of the steps in her Brand Mapping procedure include the following:
Core Statement: A ‘go-to description’ that explains the personality and work of a leader. It may also be called the ‘elevator pitch’.
Brand Character and Tone: The constant quality, tenor, mood, manner and character that a leader brings to all their interactions.
Distinct Branding Proposition: The uniqueness of the things or how they are done. What sets the leader’s specific style apart from the others?
The management of a personal brand demands a leader to be an excellent role model, voice and/or mentor for the others. For instance, if you’re writing an article or blog, you need to be extremely careful that your audience expects a certain “experience of insight and thought’ from you.
How do you define your leadership brand?
You need to start by assessing what inspires or prompted you to take up a leadership role. Try and summarise this in a single sentence i.e. your reason for becoming a leader. This activity will help you bring your authentic self into your leadership brand. There are multiple reasons why people take up leadership roles. For instance, you might be sincerely committed to enhancing the work culture in your organisation. Another reason could be that you’re motivated to help your co-workers/subordinates achieve their highest potential.
Leadership continues to evolve as you transition from lower-level management to senior positions. This entails a gradual change in your duties and priorities. Hence, it is critical to ascertain the competencies and values that will help you accomplish your goals.
Below are a few examples of the skills and values needed at different management levels:
Skills: Delegation, communication and accountability
Values: Working through others
Skills: Making tough decisions, developing/coaching lower management, and organising crucial discussions
Presidents, CEO’s and Business Managers
Skills: Ability to take key financial decisions, long-term vision, analysis, operating methods
Values: General business strategy
Think of your personal leadership brand as your trademark. This is an asset which you need to constantly safeguard, mould and shape. You need to manage this personal brand with the aim of supporting and helping others, i.e. they should benefit from the relationship you share with them, whether it is within the organisation or in the industry at large.