By Tracy Tsai, PCC, CPC
Do you have a personal leadership brand statement?
Whether you are nodding your head confidently or pondering with hesitation, the fact is this: yes, you already have a leadership brand! Everything you say and do reflects to others who you are as a leader.
That’s why at Her New Standard, we believe it’s crucial for women leaders to be intentional about building and communicating a personal leadership brand. Taking control of your own brand helps you shape the way you’re perceived by others, rather than leaving your reputation to chance or assumptions.
What is a Leadership Brand?
While there are no hard and fast rules, a strong leadership brand statement succinctly highlights your strengths, passions, and how you contribute to your organization. It signals to others what is unique about you as a leader, making you more memorable and opening doors to new opportunities. When it comes to leading others, it shows your team members what you value, which can set the tone and direction for your whole team. Another added benefit of having a clear personal leadership brand is that it can serve as your “north star,” guiding you towards opportunities that are aligned with your values, strengths and passions–and give you the confidence to say “no” to those that are not.
So if you haven’t yet crafted your leadership brand, here are some steps that can help you get started:
1. Define what you care most about as a leader.
Former Medtronic CEO and Harvard professor Bill George once said, ”Before you can become an authentic leader, you have to know who you are.” What do you value? Are these values truly yours, or have you defaulted to absorbing those of others around you? How do these beliefs shape you as a leader? One leader we worked with explained that what mattered most to her was creating a positive, collaborative environment so that her team could thrive.
2. Recognize what sets you apart.
What are you really good at that others may struggle with? What do people often come to you for guidance on? A good way to identify this is to ask your managers, teammates, mentors, family and friends about your differentiators. Think about feedback you’ve received, and reference assessments such as the DiSC. For one of our Accelerate participants, what set her apart was the ability to solve complex problems quickly.
3. Align with what’s critical to your organization’s success.
This step is important, but often lacking, when creating a leadership brand statement. You’re now clear on your strengths and passions, but how can you use them to make a difference in your current environment? What are your organization’s most important goals, and what opportunities do you have to make a meaningful impact?
Taking a Fresh Look at Your Leadership Brand
|How to Refresh Your Leadership Brand
|Specific Steps You Can Take
|Revisit Your Values
|Take Note of Recent Changes
|Amplify Your Brand
If you’ve already created a leadership brand statement, good for you! However, your brand is not something that is “one-and-done.” It is a living, breathing thing that can, and should, evolve over time as circumstances in your professional and personal life changes.
The new year is a time for reflecting and re-evaluating, so there’s no better time than now to reassess your leadership brand with fresh eyes. Each new year presents an opportunity to reflect on the prior year and leverage any lessons you’ve learned to give you direction for the next year and beyond. Your leadership brand is no exception.
Are you currently embodying your brand in everything that you do? Have you made your brand explicit to others? If the answer to either of these questions is no, it’s time for a leadership brand refresh. Here are some ways to ensure your personal leadership brand remains strong and effective as you kick off the new year:
Before you begin the exercise of refreshing your brand, reiterate to yourself the importance of purposefully shaping your brand, instead of letting others dictate it for you. If you haven’t been intentional about your brand in some time, it’s likely that others are drawing their own conclusions and not giving you the credit you deserve. No one is more knowledgeable about your values, capabilities and contributions as you are. Reminding yourself of why it’s important to own your brand will give you the motivation you need to invest time in revitalizing it and embodying it fully.
Revisit Your Values
Your values are the foundation of your leadership brand, ensuring that your leadership style remains authentic to who you are. Ask yourself: Does your leadership brand still echo your core values, or has it subtly drifted away over time? On the flip side, your values can also evolve over time, so it’s important to periodically assess and align your brand with your current priorities. For instance, have you experienced a significant life change that might impact who you are as a leader?
One way to know how to improve your leadership brand is to get a baseline of how you’re currently perceived by others. You can do this by soliciting feedback from managers, colleagues, mentors and sponsors. Ask them what makes you stand out as a leader and how they would describe you to others. If their feedback is inconsistent with your desired leadership brand, then you may need to work on articulating your leadership brand more clearly or addressing the gaps between perception and reality.
Take Note of Recent Changes
If it’s been a while since you’ve last looked at your leadership brand, take some time to reflect on your journey since then. Have you picked up any new skills or mastered something that you once aimed to improve? Have you discovered a new passion or deepened your commitment to certain outcomes? Is your organization now focusing on goals that call on different strengths of yours? It’s important to ensure your brand reflects your own evolution and the changing landscape in which you’re working.
If you are stepping into a new role, it’s even more important to make sure your leadership brand accurately reflects your current self. People’s perceptions of new leaders tend to be heavily influenced by the leader’s actions and reputations in previous roles, mainly due to limited information. Embarking on a new role offers a chance for you to shape the narrative and clarify any misconceptions. Start by understanding what’s important in this new role, as that will help you highlight the relevant strengths, passions and value you intend to bring to the organization. Communicating your leadership brand clearly from the outset will help others get to know you as you build new relationships and navigate fresh challenges.
Amplify Your Brand
A leadership brand statement alone doesn’t mean anything unless you are actively sharing it with others. Reflect on how, and to whom, you’ve communicated your brand over the past year. Who are the key stakeholders who should be acquainted with your unique contributions, and have you engaged them accordingly? If not, what upcoming opportunities are there to introduce or reiterate your brand to them in this coming year? Additionally, it’s helpful to check in with your sponsors and advocates and communicate your refreshed brand, to ensure they are accurately and actively championing your leadership brand in their conversations with others.
To help spark some ideas as you craft or refresh your brand, you can find some examples for inspiration here.
How Effective is Your Leadership Brand?
You’ve done the work to craft your brand and have proactively and consistently communicated it to those around you. But how can you tell if your leadership brand is resonating with others and making an impact? Here are some signs that your efforts are paying off:
- You notice that you’re being offered roles and assignments you enjoy, and less of what you don’t enjoy.
- You make decisions with increased confidence, because your choices are intentionally aligned with your leadership brand. You’re also less hesitant to say “no” to things that are not.
- Your manager and colleagues are giving you feedback that resonates with the strengths, passions and contributions that you’ve emphasized in your leadership brand.
- You feel in your gut that you are an authentic leader, because your thoughts and actions are in alignment with your core values and sense of purpose.
As you reflect upon how you want to show up as a leader this upcoming year, spend some time with your personal leadership brand. Whether you’ve decided to create a new statement from scratch or refine your existing one, remember that your brand is your compass and showcases who you are as a leader. Embrace it and share it proudly!
Interested in learning how HNS can support your women leaders?
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