How to build your brand as a leader

If you want to build a powerful brand as a leader, it has to be authentic. In other words, it has to be based on who you are, being clear about your talents, values and mission in life. That is how you will differentiate yourself and create value with certain people in certain situations. The art of leading effectively is to identify what your unique talents are, how you use them and what types of communities and environments suit you best, so you can make the most impact.
Some of those who talk and write about leadership branding make a fundamental error when they imply that you can choose a leadership brand. No wonder so many commentators have become critical and cynical about those who promote this approach. For example, Norm Smallwood, the co-author with Dave Ulrich and Kate Sweetman of The Leadership Code in the Harvard Business Review blog (March 29, 2010), described a five-stage process to build your Leadership Brand:
1.       Identify what results you want to achieve in the next year
2.       Identify what you wish to be known for
3.       Define your identity
4.       Construct your leadership brand statement
5.       Make your brand identity real
Fundamentally, I disagree with this approach, because you already have a leadership brand, based on who you are and how you behave:
1.       To be consistent you need to clarify your mission in life – not rely on short-term goals.
2.       It is a matter of understanding what you are known for and then clarifying it and making it more powerful. It is not about arbitrarily identifying things that may sound nice but bear little relation to your talents or your values.
3.       The aim is to project your leadership brand, making it more visible to those who value what you do.
4.       Your leadership brand comes from inside you, not from choosing to be something you are not. A leadership brand only works when it is authentic.
Once you are aware of how you lead, and the talents you use when you do so, you will realise the kind of environments in which you thrive and have the greatest impact. Then you can use your energy to inspire others. Your leadership brand will be highly meaningful to you and to other people.
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6 Comments » for How to build your brand as a leader
  1. Sandy Magee says:

    Great post… definitely gives me a little more direction as I work on building my brand. Thanks!

  2. Priya Mahtani says:

    It is so refreshing to read posts about communicating authentically and branding myself according to the talents already there; has this a very rounded feel, reinforcing the idea that everything we need is within us. This is perfectly timely for me as I am at the beginnings of a new business venture; have just ordered the book and know this will help to keep me on track. Thank you!

    Its interesting because i recently asked 20-30 of my closest friends to email me back the 5 adjectives that spribg to mind spontaneously when they think of me. It was a great exercise of course to do, but more than this it helped me to see clearly what my most consistent archetypal energies are; these are all things that are helping me to shape my new business idea, by being clearly grounded in my core values and who I am in the world, that way I get to offer the best part of myself and feel great about it along the way!

    I don’t know if you offer courses or put on workshops and or events, but would definitely be interested if you did! I know there is a wealth of material on branding out there, but this feels conscious and really stands out; will follow your posts with interest 🙂

  3. Susan says:

    Excellent article. I am currently building a development session for high performing/high potential up and comers at my current organization and was looking for some tools to support the training. However after reading this it got my started on self introspection. I will definitely look at picking the book up and adding it to my library.

    Thanks for the insight!

  4. Tasha Turner says:

    Fantastic post. I’m a social media coach who also writes Jewish vampire fiction,,, oh that sounds so cool.

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