Leadership Brand: Is Yours What You Want?

We once asked a client to describe the brand of Clearwater Consulting Group. With a retail and marketing background, she was a great person to ask. Plus, she was new to the client organization, had just met us and seen our facilitation of two team development workshops as well as a training session. I was now meeting with her one on one to accelerate her onboarding process. In her words, the Clearwater team is “professional, very fit, smart, and energetic, very much wanting us (the client) to succeed.”

Most of us think of brands as products or companies. I invite you to think of yourself as a brand in the sense that you impress others with the image of what you stand for as a leader and how you share that with the world. Brand is the combination of your expertise, your delivery, your communication and work style, your actions, and your presence.

What are the qualities that create your brand as a leader? Ideally it is unique to you, memorable in a positive way, leaving an impression that encourages others to follow your lead, inspires them to engage as allies, and enrolls them in your project or mission. It is what you’re known for. So…what are you known for?

Imagine you just made a presentation to the senior suite of executives; it was a huge success – lots of head nodding and, finally, applause. What will they say when you walk out of the room?

Imagine you are having a one-on-one with an employee, coaching her to step more fully into her new role. What will she say about you after the conversation?

Every situation offers us the opportunity to act with integrity for what matters most to us. Here are a few brand-anchoring beliefs and passions that have been shared with us recently when we asked, “What do you want to stand for?”

  • Transparency – President of a growing financial services firm challenged by silo mentality
  • Positive momentum – Learning & Development Director inheriting a department previously lacking support
  • Work-life balance – Partner, healthcare technology startup
  • What’s new, what’s next, what’s possible – EVP, retail

The next question then is, “What do others think you stand for?”

Are you clear about your brand and your unique expression of your strengths and beliefs, your work style, and your goals? Is there consistency in how you express it? For example, if you believe in transparency and want to be known as a leader who promotes the generous sharing of appropriate information, do you consistently role model that behavior?

Branding yourself with clarity and consistency has a powerful impact on multiple levels within an organization:

  • For you, it draws from your values and beliefs, it represents what energizes and sustains you with the outcome that you are recognized for your gifts and you remain engaged in your work.
  • For your team and colleagues, it creates clarity because they now know what you stand for, and that alone can inspire others to get clearer about who they are and what they stand for as well.
  • For your company, the benefit is having employees whose brand identity is supportive of the corporate identity, whose brand identity positively impacts culture with the outcome of positive business results and engaged employees.

In corporate marketing, branding is a science and an art. As a leader, your brand is the collective assemblage of who you want to be and how you are perceived. Ideally, you are aware of both.“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”—Jim Rohn