5 tips to help you identify and define your personal leadership brand

The fact that we all have our own personal brand is not a new trend. However, understanding the importance and actively managing that personal brand is of new importance. Since you probably already have a personal leadership brand, the more important question is, do you have the right one?

While some might dismiss the importance of this, the question is not trivial to your career. A personal leadership brand conveys your identity as a leader. It communicates the value you offer those around you. If you have the wrong leadership brand for the position you have, or the position you desire, then your efforts are not having the impact you might hope or expect. A strong personal leadership brand allows all that’s powerful and effective about you to become known to your colleagues and subordinates, enabling you to generate maximum value.

On top of that, choosing a leadership brand can help give you focus. When you clearly identify what you want to be known for, it is easier to let go of the tasks and projects that do not help you deliver on that. Instead, you can concentrate on the activities that do.

So how do you build a leadership brand? Let’s consider these 5 tips.

1. Identify the results do you want to achieve.
Begin by asking yourself, “Over the course of the next 6 to 12 months, what are the major results I want to deliver at work?” You might want to consider the interests of important groups such as:
* Customers
* Boss
* Shareholders
* Employees
* The Organization
Remember, a leadership brand is outwardly focused. It is about delivering results. While identifying innate strengths is an important part of defining your leadership brand, the starting point is clarifying what is expected of you.

2. What do you want to be known for?
If you are policy oriented and hardworking, you may come across as somewhat aloof. These traits add up to a leadership brand that would not take you very far in more interactive role.
With that in mind, pick descriptors that balance the qualities that came naturally to you and that would be critical in more interactive position. Test your choices by sharing them with your boss, peers, and some of your most trusted allies. Ask them, “Are these the traits that someone in this general role should exhibit?” Their responses can help you to refine your list. It might include some of the following traits:
* Collaborative
* Good Listener
* Deliberate
* Independent
* Innovative
* Results-Oriented
* Strategic
A key is not to get too many words or your message becomes difficult to define.

3. Define your identity
The next step is to combine these words into two or three word phrases that reflect your desired identity. This exercise allows you to build a deeper, more complex description: not only what you want to be known for, but how you will probably have to act to get there. For example, calmly driven differs from tirelessly driven. Experimenting with the many combinations that you can make from your chosen words helps you crystallize your personal leadership brand.

4. Write your leadership brand statement and then test it.
Pull everything together in a leadership brand statement that makes a “so that” connection between what you want to be known for (Steps 2 and 3) and your desired results (Step 1).

Fill in the blanks:
“I want to be known for being ______________ so that I can deliver __________.”
Your leadership brand statement might read: “I want to be known for being independently innovative, deliberately collaborative and strategically results-oriented so that I can deliver superior financial outcomes for my business.”

Next, ask the following three questions to see if it needs to be refined:
* Is this the brand identity that best represents who I am and what I can do?
* Is this brand identity something that creates value in the eyes of my organization and key people around me?
* What risks am I taking by selecting this brand? Can I deliver on this brand?
After going through this exercise, you should be fully satisfied that you have crafted a personal leadership brand that is appropriate to your role and within your power to deliver.

5. Make your brand identity real
If you fail to live up to your personal leadership brand it will create cynicism around you because you do not deliver what you promised. To ensure that the brand you advertise is embodied in your day-to-day work, check in with those around you.
After you identify and define your personal leadership brand, share it with others. Let them know what you brand is and invite their feedback.

The exercise of forging a leadership brand and the day-to-day discipline of making it real will help you stay focused on the most important challenges of your role.

To be sure, your leadership brand is keeping up with the times, it should evolve in response to the different expectations you face at different times in your career. Try this and see if it helps your awareness and your long-term success.

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