Whether you’re aware of it or not, you already have a personal leadership brand. Everything you do or say (or don’t do or say) communicates your identity as a leader to those around you.
When you intentionally define your leadership brand, you’re able to shape the way you’re perceived by others and clearly communicate who you are, what you value, and the unique strengths you have to offer. The rewards of your efforts are more effective networking, greater recognition for your contributions, and increased opportunities for advancement.
Are you ready to begin owning your value and leading with intention? If so, we’ve broken down the process of creating your leadership brand into six simple steps. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Clarify Your Values
Your values are the foundation of your leadership brand, serving as the compass that guides your actions, decisions and how you show up and interact with others.
Begin by exploring your current values and reflecting on how those shape you as a leader. Are your values truly representative of what matters most to you, or have you defaulted to absorbing the values of your organization, culture, or social circle without giving it much thought?
The first step in defining your leadership brand is coming up with a list of 5 – 10 values that are personally meaningful to you and representative of how you want to lead.
Here are a few questions to help you uncover what values are most significant to you:
- Reflect on meaningful moments in your life when you felt happy, proud, or fulfilled. What was happening? What values were being honored? You can also reverse this and think about a time when you had a strong negative reaction to someone’s actions. What value was being stepped on?
- What kind of person do you want to be remembered as?
- What character traits do you admire most in others?
You can view a list of common core values here to help you brainstorm.
When you lead with your values, your authenticity shines through, helping you motivate and inspire others, so it’s important not to underestimate the significance of this step.
Step 2: Identify Your Strengths
Now that you’ve clarified your values, it’s time to determine your unique strengths.
Begin with self-reflection. What are you really good at? What comes easily to you that others struggle with? What do people most often come to you for advice or guidance on?
Next, ask others what traits or skills they see in you. Your manager, teammates, mentors, friends and family may have different perceptions of you, but look for common themes in their feedback. Chances are, you’ll learn you have more strengths than you give yourself credit for.
Step 3: Find Your Passions
Your passions are activities or causes that you possess a compelling enthusiasm for and are highly motivated when pursuing.
If you’re struggling to identify your passion(s), try asking yourself the following questions:
- What motivates, excites or drives you?
- What are you curious about? What do you always want to learn more about?
- When and where do you feel most engaged?
- What’s most important in your life? What must you do or have to feel fulfilled?
- If you knew you were going to be highly successful in your career and money wasn’t an issue, what work would you pursue?
No matter how well-suited you are to your current role, there will always be days where you feel discouraged or unmotivated. During these difficult times, passion is what helps you persevere and remember the underlying meaning that makes your work worthwhile.
Step 4: Understand Your Organization’s Needs & Decide Where You Can Make a Difference
Once you’ve clarified what matters to you and what you have to offer, it’s time to look at the goals of your organization and how you can best utilize your strengths to make a positive impact. Here are some questions to consider:
- What are your organization’s most important goals right now? Over the next 3 years?
- Where is your team struggling? What challenges does your department face?
- Where are there opportunities for you to take initiative and make a meaningful impact?
Consider scheduling meetings with your manager and other leaders to discuss company goals and how you can contribute at a higher level. The very act of asking can lead to more opportunities because it signals to those around you that you want to take on more responsibility in moving the company forward.
Step 5: Craft Your Leadership Brand Statement
Now it’s time to take everything you’ve learned throughout this process and craft your leadership brand statement.
While there are no hard and fast rules, make sure that you succinctly highlight your defining leadership strengths, values and passions as well as the results you’ve achieved. If you are communicating your brand to internal leaders, you’ll want to also include how you feel you can best help the company or your department achieve its goals.
Here are a couple of examples to get the creative juices flowing:
“I get excited by solving challenging problems, particularly when the solutions make people’s lives better. I’m good at looking at issues from the 60,000 foot level and seeing what needs to change. Recently I collaborated with Marketing to find better ways to use technology to reach consumers. I’m passionate about continuous improvement and I see lots of opportunities to contribute cross-functionally in our organization..”
– Technology Leader & past participant of HNS Accelerate
“I am a focused and charismatic, yet down to earth executive; a defining beacon of guiding light and truly inspirational leader for my team, my business, and my organization. I am known for creating high-performance team environments that inspire employees to peak performance and business strategies that consistently deliver profitable sales growth. Marketing is my skill. Customers are my priority. Coaching is my passion. Winning is my motivator.”– Michael Edwards
“I leverage my avid love of learning and mastery of online technology to facilitate career management for trend-setting professionals who strive to be dynamic and high achieving in their business.” – Kristen A. Jacoway
Step 6: Take Action and Live Your Brand
Once you’ve defined your leadership brand, it’s time to live it!
We leave you with this challenge: Share your brand statement with two people in your company or professional network this week. In our HNS Accelerate program for women leaders, we require participants to share their leadership brand with senior leaders in their organizations. We’ve found this leads to exciting opportunities, and in some cases, even promotions. So share the good news and brace yourself for unexpected results!