Branding is a bit like reputation management. And much as the brand for your company is usually more clear in the eyes of your customer than in the efforts of your marketing department, your brand as a leader is in the eyes of those you lead. Employees are the customer to whom leaders market most, yet how much awareness do you have of your own personal leadership brand? Do you need one? You have one even if you think you don’t. What is it? How do you develop one that you like better or that is more ‘you’? Here are 3 key elements to keep in mind and fully focus on as you develop and maintain your personal leadership brand.
A brand is what you are known for and for most corporate brands this means what customers believe of the company. Given that, it is difficult to create a brand inside your office without taking into consideration the customer perspective. For the leader that means asking employees how they see things. Perhaps this is a survey or tool to gather their feedback or perhaps it is mere observation. To create or develop a different brand, it’s important to know where you currently stand.
What do you want? Decide that first and then consider what, given what you want, you wish to be known for? Do you want to be the most successful leader your company has ever known? Okay, in that context of setting your goal, what do you want your actions in achieving that goal to result in for your reputation, or your brand? Do you want to be the best leader and yet still be seen as approachable, people focused, and one who improves work performance through mentoring future leaders or do you want to be seen as the tyrant who gets the job done no matter what? There’s some middle ground here certainly, but step 1 of developing your personal leadership brand is figuring out what you want it to look like?
If you know what your personal leadership brand is in the eye of employees and you know what you want that brand to be, Step 2 is in taking note of the difference and filling in the gaps. That sounds easy, but consider some larger corporate brands that have taken a hit. There’s Tylenol, Delta, Coke, and even Facebook who’ve publicly taken hits we can all recall. They had a brand, took a hit, assessed the damage, gathered feedback, and spent millions to fill the gaps. Most now don’t remember where they went wrong. You may not have to spend millions as your personal leadership brand is much more in your control, but you do have to spend the time to get specific on what you want and take action to get there.
If you’ve ever been on a diet, this will be easy to visualize. You don’t eat well and exercise, lose those 10 nagging pounds and then go back to eating strawberry shortcake for breakfast and expect to maintain. A personal leadership brand, much like leadership development and training is not a one hit wonder. Want to maintain the brand? Keep taking the feedback, soliciting the input, taking action, and above all, pay attention. In marketing they call it brand awareness. And even if in this case, your marketing team for your brand is simply comprised of the voices in your head, the level of awareness they have of your brand, will make all the difference in the world in how quickly you can fix any hits it may take and how you maintain the brand you want.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!