Do you own your personal leadership brand? You may be thinking, “I don’t have time for that,” or, “That is for the big corporations.” Whether you are intentionally aware of your personal leadership brand, you have one.
To illustrate, your reputation is based on what you have done in the past. Many people live off their reputation, not realizing that is may conflict with how you show up today. As an example, leaders who are in congruent; whose message doesn’t match what they do lose influence and do not have the impact they need to fulfill the expectation of their job.
Your brand is an intentional expression of what you are doing right now and promise to do in the future. Therefore, it is your opportunity to be authentic because it includes your values, your unique strengths and the value you bring. It is how you show up in the course of doing your job.
When you have a personal leadership brand you will stand apart from others, have a better chance of being promoted, find the right fit for your next position and enjoy stronger working relationships.
“Your brand is an intentional expression of what you are doing right now and promise to do in the future. ”
– Dr. Cynthia Howard-
When what you say and what you do lines up; people know what to expect and they trust you.
When you clearly identify what you want your brand to be known for, you can bring focus to your aspirations by concentrating on the tasks that align with your goals, rather than getting sidetracked or drained by ones that do not.
In this post, I will walk through the steps to build an authentic leadership brand.
1. Ask yourself what you expect from yourself (your business/professional role) in the next 12 months.
By focusing on your desired result, where you want to be, you have a roadmap. You can use this desired outcome to set up the steps necessary to get there.
2. Identify your strengths and what you want to be known for.
Consider your current role and the characteristics that are required to continue in that role. Are you aspiring to a new position, a promotion? What other skills and or behaviors do you need to express to be successful in that role?
Consider your personal strengths and the expectations others have of you; is there a match or a disconnect?
On a sheet of paper draw a line down the middle. On one side list your strengths and value contributions. Resist focusing on any weaknesses. Ask others what they think your strengths are and add to the list. Keep this list going for several days before you advance to the next step. You want to list at least 15 strengths before moving on.
In the column next to your strengths, identify what outcomes you want to be known for. What do you want to accomplish, what results do you want to be credited with? What do you want to be known for? This is personal and is your opportunity to think big. Having a small leadership brand is worse than having none at all; it will limit how others see you and shortchange your potential.
3. Combine those traits and characteristics into short phrases that could describe you.
Once you have a few phrases, test them out with trusted co-workers or mentors to see what reaction you get. Fine-tune until you’re confident that the statement is authentic in describing you.
Let’s say someone listed ambitious, driven, jovial, dedicated, competitive, focused, as a few of your strengths. They also have powerful, innovative, connector, million-dollar salesperson for what they want to be known for. Their short phrase may be: Innovative power connector, or, Ambitious people person.
In this example, what stands out as a unique value contribution is the “jovial” characteristic. This person thrives under pressure, yet brings a lighthearted approach, making it easy for them to connect with others who also may be ambitious, focused and driven. By lightening the mood, they make a personal connection and quickly build trust.
Learning to focus on one’s strengths does require a shift in perspective. Most of the world is focused on weaknesses. Our approach to coaching and development is to focus on strengths because this what energizes people. And it is your energy that engages – or not.
Now, take your short phrase and put it into a brand statement.
4. Build a personal leadership brand statement.
Now it is time to put your phrase into this sentence:
“I want to be known for being ________, so that I can provide _________.”
Using the example above, this person writes:
“I want to be known for being an Ambitious people person, so that I receive the Million Dollar Sales achievement award.
This person’s goal was to be recognized as a power player in sales in his industry. He is owning his value contribution, his great sense of humor, that helps him build trust and make authentic connections. In this high pressure field, this sets him apart from others.
This may take several rounds to uncover your unique value contribution and your authentic leadership brand. The effort is worth it; keep working at it. The process is going to yield an increase in confidence as you build your awareness. Knowing how you want to show up will help you move ahead in a way that is authentic to you.
Now that you have created your personal leadership brand statement, fine-tune it by asking these questions:
- Can I live this brand? Am I happy with this brand?
- Is this the identity that best describes me and what I can do?
- Does this identity provide value for my organization? And for my future?
5. Make it real. Own it.
Congratulations! You have set up your authentic brand statement. Now you want to live it. Ways to do this include:
1. Blog about your perspective (brand) and how you can impact your world for good as a result of it.
2. Act the part. Showing up confident and enthusiastic.
3. Embrace this identity internally. Feel it in your core, love the feeling and show up at your very best, highlighting your unique strengths.
Having an authentic brand is an ongoing process. You want to evaluate your results – are you achieving what you wanted? Does it still line up with your values? By intentionally choosing to focus on your strengths and show up at your best, you are choosing excellence over the default mode of status quo. I applaud you, and I know the world around you will take notice.
Enjoy being your authentic BEST!
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