Marketers no longer talk just about a company’s brand. If we look at the brand as similar to reputation, managers, leaders, and social media personalities all have a particular brand that they are promoting. Whether you like it or not, you have a brand.
The key to being successful in the business world is to take control of your personal leadership brand, and make sure that you’re being consistent, coherent, and deliberate with your personal branding.
These four steps will get you started on defining your personal leadership brand.
What Do You Stand For Currently?
Since we know that brands happen, whether we want them to or not, it’s important to start by understanding what your brand is currently.
Look at your workplace. What do you deliver? What are you responsible for? How do you interact with your direct reports? What are your strengths? What are your challenges at work?
As you begin to consider these things, be honest with yourself. Some people excel at soft skills – managing people and interactions – while other are naturally better at hard skills – technical know-how and business tasks, for example.
There’s nothing wrong with inherently being better at one than the other. There is something wrong with refusing to see that you have an area ripe for improvement.
For example: I am a talented trainer and excel at managing top employees.
What Do You Want To Be Known For?
Once you know where you currently are, you can start to consider where you want to be. In the next month, year, decade, where do you see yourself? Do you want to continue to rise in this field?
Would you like to be an acknowledged thought leader and sought after keynote speaker in your industry? Are you dreaming of a book contract that will take you to the bestseller list?
Setting goals is a key to determining what your brand should emphasize. If you want to be an industry event speaker, for example, you will focus on your verbal presentations. If you want to be a blogger and author, however, your written skills will be more important.
For example: I motivate employees through multi-faceted conversations and can teach your management teams how to improve performance with their direct reports.
How Can You Communicate Your Brand?
Just like your business’s marketing plan, your brand communication will have several different presentations. You need a quick and condensed brand statement that you can use in elevator pitches and high-level conversations; you also need a nitty-gritty breakdown of your values and skills.
At various points, you will also end up creating bio statements that will need to be on brand, and will likely be various lengths due to different requirements.
Just like a business works on its brand statement, distilling it down to the most important key elements, you should work on your personal leadership brand. What is the most important element for you to communicate immediately?
The most important application of your brand statement may be on your resume itself. Work on distilling your statement down to around 75 words, a short paragraph. This is not the time to mince words or prevaricate. State boldly who you are and what you do.
I lead successful teams to build on their current performance to develop their efficiency and disrupt the marketplace with innovative ideas. I manage employee performance through diverse understanding and perspectives that build relationships and encourage their own development. I offer exceptional training opportunities for my direct reports and the company as a whole.
How Can You Measure Your Success?
With any goal, measuring success is important. As you begin to develop your leadership brand, talk to people around you about what you’re doing. Ask what they think of your current position, as well as your goals.
Be open to their feedback. We often are not the best judges of our own performance. If you think you excel in one area, while a colleague thinks you need to continue to develop in this point, consider how well you’re communicating your successes versus your struggles.
Also make sure to talk to your team. Ask them what they think of as your strengths and your challenges. Make sure to let them know that you want to hear their honest and open feedback; otherwise there can be a lot of awkward looks in the room as these questions are asked!
As you focus on specific areas, continue to ask for honest feedback about how the team, and your leadership style, can be improved.
Building your personal leadership brand will help you stand out from other candidates at your next job, and will also help you define and structure your interactions. If you know what matters the most to you, it’s easier to decide how to move forward.
What do you think are the most important steps to define your leadership brand?