Why Do You Need to Establish Your Leadership Brand?

Written by on January 7, 2016

Great leaders are made, not born. So what goes into the making of a leader? There are certain skills required; if they don’t have them, consulting can help them learn them and put them into practice. But what’s next? They need to find their own unique brand of leadership.

Why Do You Need a Leadership Brand?

In Leading the Life You Want, Stewart Friedman, founding director of the Work/Life Integration Project, describes “total leadership.” He says that one of the pillars is “Being real, acting with authenticity, and knowing your values and vision.”

Leadership skills – communication, negotiation, influencing, etc. – are the table stakes. They allow leaders to sit down at the table. But then, to lead authentically, they need to tap into what kind of leader they want to be. How do they want to show up? What works well? What is challenging for them?

Leaders oftentimes see people who have achieved success and emulate them. While there is nothing wrong with “borrowing” from the best, if they simply imitate someone else, they are not really allowing their heart of leadership to come out. It is important to realize that they will be much more successful when they are themselves. When they do not act authentically – but are authentic.

Do these leaders underestimate what they can bring when they step into their own brand? Yes, often they do. Coaching helps them discover their potential. That is the key to fulfillment – and to bringing other people onboard with their leadership. People “buy in” to authenticity, to powerful leadership brands.

Tools to Help Clients Identify Leadership Brands

A variety of tools can help clients discover and live their leadership brands, including:

  • 360 surveys. These surveys gather feedback from peers, leaders, direct-reports, and others within the organization. Their value is in the multiple perspectives that they pull together. It can allow leaders to see how they are perceived by a variety of people. The more insights they can hear, the more fuel they have to make improvements.

  • Formal assessments. Coaches and clients can use a formalized assessment initially to set a new benchmark. Repeating the assessment in 12 months or 18 months can help them see growth, areas of change, and areas in which they still need to work.

  • Wheel of Life. In this exercise, the client draws a circle and divides it into 8 aspects of their life and rank their satisfaction therein. This is often very impactful and can help clients see where they are prioritizing and how it is affecting their happiness/wellbeing. The areas are:
    • Career.
    • Significant Other.
    • Money.
    • Family and Friends.
    • Fun and Recreation.
    • Health.
    • Personal Growth.
    • Physical/Environment.
  • Looking at Blind Spots. Examining how others perceive the leader is important. What are their blind spots? A positive blind spot may be that people like what they see or what the leader is doing – but the client underestimates that. A negative blind spot is a lack of awareness. They may be underestimating how much they drive people crazy! 360s, coach observation, and other tools can help leaders solicit this type of critical feedback.

The goal isn’t to establish a leadership brand in an afternoon. It takes time to peel off layers, search around, and dive deeper into themselves to find their unique value. This is a journey – and it is one that starts yielding results well before the destination is reached.