Developing Your Leadership Brand

In our attention deficit world, how does one get noticed?  Develop a leadership brand.

You can no longer rely on your hard work and great results to get you promoted.  A client of mine worked his whole life getting all the degrees and certifications he could. He got on all the right committees and demonstrated great emotional intelligence. He was well liked, and he had great results to show.  In short, he had it all. But he still wasn’t getting noticed by top leadership and his career had slowed to a crawl.

For the next several coaching sessions we worked on his leadership brand.  For the same reasons companies brand themselves, leadership should as well.  If you don’t know what you stand for and where you’re going, then why would anyone want to follow you?  Here are four stages to developing a leadership brand

  1. Big ideas:  If money and resources weren’t an issue, what goal or project would be worthy of your passions and efforts?  What is your BHAG: Big Harry Audacious Goal?  Maybe you want to cure a disease like Dr. Vonn Hoff told me once when he said he wanted to find a cure for pancreatic cancer.  Or maybe you’re like my wife who wants to inspire creativity by building beautiful interiors. Or maybe you’re like me who wants to teach people in business how to trust their intuition.  Whatever the big idea, claim it. Own it.  Don’t hold back your commitment for this big idea until you figure out how to do it. That doesn’t work in marriages or in raising kids, and it doesn’t work in committing to an idea in your work-life.  Commit first. Figure out how second.
  2. Beliefs: As Simon Sinek stated in his book First Start with Why, people will follow you when you articulate a belief they share.  Martin Luther King renamed his beliefs “dreams”, and millions of people followed him because they believed what he believed.  In business, you may have a belief that authentic leaders are driven by the desire to create for others and themselves, meaningful work and relationships. Or you might believe the quality of customer service is in direct proportion to how employees feel supported and respected.  Whatever your beliefs, identify them.
  3. The statement: Once you have identified one or two big ideas and three to five beliefs, pull them together into a paragraph.
  4. Communicate: Memorize the statement and start sharing it formally and informally in conversations and in meetings. Formally, your brand statement might accompany a proposal for a new project to management. Informally, you can align your brand statement to a comment or idea made by a colleague.

At first glance, this might seem like a lot of work.  You’ve got all those other urgent tasks barking at you for attention.  So, schedule time in your calendar to work on your brand statement.  Work on it after you’re rested and choose a place that inspires you.  Once its finished, share it with a trusted friend and collect their feedback.

Sharing your brand statement will require courage, but if you truly want to pursue your big ideas and live your heart-felt beliefs, you’ll need to stop playing it safe and hoping others will notice your hard work and great results.