How to build a Personal Leadership Brand

Gaining a reputation as an effective authentic leader requires a combination of long term vision and front line execution. What makes a good manager is fundamentally different to what is needed to lead; delegation and empowerment replace direct oversight for example

So leading means shaking off the ‘safe pair of hands’ moniker and establishing yourself as serious leadership material

Why is it harder for women to become leaders?

Without the advantage of fitting the cookie cutter model of a good leader aka white and male, women are required to be more proactive in demonstrating their competence and confidence as leaders so being able to succinctly articulate your accomplishments using the language of leadership is a skill in itself

It’s easy to suppose that leadership qualities besides being gender-based are simply a quirk of personality. You’ve either got it or you haven’t.  But there are clear methods for inspiring and empowering others to reach a shared vision. Harnessing and leveraging these qualities is a fundamental skill which is where your Personal Leadership Brand comes into play

Personal Brand Ambition

A well-tended Personal Leadership brand is a reflection of your deepest values. It helps others, define who you are and assess your anticipated value as a leader. The Personal Leadership Brand you aspire to should guide you into the future. It’s all about who you are and your vision. I call it Personal Brand Ambition.

Realizing what you want your leadership brand to be gives focus to your actions. It helps you to clarify what you should and shouldn’t be doing and acts as your filter for decision making, keeping you consistent.

Articulating and cultivating your personal leadership brand has many benefits. It is the proactive way to work and lead in ways that are authentic to you, not based on the expectations of others

Here are some other benefits

1.         A powerful leadership brand can enhance your ability to achieve your career goals. Whether you aspire to a higher-level position or want different challenges than you currently have, you need a leadership brand that signals your capabilities and interests.

As you become more respected and appreciated for your leadership contributions, you gain more opportunity and experience, which reinforces your brand

2.         Your leadership brand can help you broaden and deepen your impact. Your brand reflects not only the work you get done, but how and who you interact with to do so. The way you engage in the process of leadership helps create a leadership brand that others are more likely to remember and talk about

3.         Your leadership brand differentiates you from other leaders based on your own unique value. When you have a clear leadership brand, people know what to expect from you versus others. Maybe you are uniquely able to organize complex projects, mediate disagreements, or develop others. When people think about your brand, those talents should immediately come to mind.

You will then be assigned to roles where those talents are valued — and because we are all better at doing things we like, you will be given more opportunities to do the type of work you enjoy.

4.         A leadership brand that lacks clarity will stall your growth and keep you in roles where you don’t thrive. Without a clear and well- communicated leadership brand, others may be unaware of your capabilities, your value, and the contributions you make. You may end up working in a vacuum, unseen and unheard by your boss, key stakeholders, and even your peers. Promotions and interesting assignments are likely to pass you by leaving you frustrated and demoralised

Where to start

1. Unearth your authentic strengths. Strong brands are rooted in reality, not immitation.

2. Indra Nooyi, former Chair & CEO of PepsiCo. She said: “Leadership is hard to define and good leadership is even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader

So consider what you want to be known for and what your team needs to know about you in order to follow you

3. Have a long-term vision. To lead your team in the right direction, you need a crystal-clear vision of where you’re headed. Your team will be more engaged, and therefore more effective, if you adopt a forward-looking mentality that they can also buy into.

4. Walk the walk. Leaders are judged by their actions; what they do not what they say.  The way you behave on a daily basis – no matter how insignificant an interaction might seem to you—will help you build your brand over time.  

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even though you’re in a leadership role, you won’t know everything. There is always more to learn. Fallibility, vulnerability and being able to fess up when you don’t know the answer are all marks of an authentic leader and ultimately the way to gain trust and respect from your team

6. For women having the skills need to lead effectively is one thing. The real challenge is being able to articulate and assert them with clarity and confidence when asked. We all know that owning our achievements is an area where many women struggle. Self-promotion is a career skill in it’s own right but in order to convey authority leaders need to be able to make their own case

A strong personal brand is imperative to anyone’s business success, but for leaders, the required brand traits include a special combination of humility and self-awareness, as well as the capacity to plan and execute innovative plans while effectively motivating a team and inspiring confidence in clients. Being able to exude confidence even if you don’t feel it, always being present and approachable whilst having clear boundaries; it’s a lot to navigate

It all adds up to a message that exudes gravitas, magnetism and that all important executive presence


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