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5 Steps To Defining Your Personal Leadership Brand

Source | Linkedin.com  | Norm Smallwood, Partner, Co-Founder at The RBL Group

You probably already have a personal leadership brand. But do you have the right one?

The question is not trivial. A leadership brand conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader. It communicates the value you offer. If you have the wrong leadership brand for the position you have, or the position you want, then your work is not having the impact it could. A strong personal leadership brand allows all that’s powerful and effective about your leadership to become known to your colleagues, enabling you to generate maximum value.

What’s more, choosing a leadership brand can help give you focus. When you clearly identify what you want to be known for, it is easier to let go of the tasks and projects that do not let you deliver on that brand. Instead, you can concentrate on the activities that do.

(Want to know what kind of leadership traits you have and which ones you could build? Take our assessment to learn more.)

So how do you build a leadership brand? My co-author Dave Ulrich and I came up with these five steps:

1. What results do you want to achieve in the next year?

The first thing you should do is ask yourself, “In the next 12 months, what are the major results I want to deliver at work?” Take into account the interests of these four groups:

  • Customers
  • Investors
  • Employees
  • The organization

Dave and I once worked with a very talented and hardworking executive we’ll call Tricia. Her successful performance in several varied roles at her organization — she’d been an auditor, a process engineer and a customer-service manager — earned her a promotion into a general manager position, charging her with running one of the company’s largest businesses. To succeed at her first large-scale leadership position and meet the complex set of expectations she would encounter in it, she knew she needed to become more deliberate about the way she led others. In short, she knew she needed a new leadership brand, and asked us for help in forging it.

Leadership brand is outward focused; it is about delivering results.

We advised Tricia to begin by focusing on the expectations of those she was working to serve, rather than on what she identified as her personal strengths. Leadership brand is outward focused; it is about delivering results. While identifying innate strengths is an important part of defining your leadership brand, the starting point is clarifying what is expected of you.

2. What do you wish to be known for?

Tricia knew she was seen as technically proficient and hardworking, but somewhat aloof. These traits, she realized, added up to a leadership brand that would not take her very far in her new role.

With that in mind, Tricia picked six descriptors that balanced the qualities that came naturally to her with those that would be critical in her new position. She then tested her choices by sharing them with her boss, her peers, and some of her most trusted subordinates. She simply asked them, “Are these the traits that someone in this general manager role should exhibit?” Their responses helped her refine her list to ultimately include the following traits:

  • Collaborative
  • Deliberate
  • Independent
  • Innovative
  • Results-oriented
  • Strategic

3. Define your identity

The next step is to combine these six words into three two-word phrases that reflect your desired identity. This exercise allows you to build a deeper, more complex description: not only what you want to be known for, but how you will probably have to act to get there. For example, “calmly driven” differs from “tirelessly driven”. Experimenting with the many combinations that you can make from your six chosen words helps you crystallize your personal leadership brand.

Readon…

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