How to Build a Solid Leadership Brand

The first step in building a leadership brand is to realize that if you’re in a leadership position you have one. The only question is are you branding yourself or are you being branded? 

 

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon says that “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

 

Your leadership brand is built from the total of what you do, how you do it and why you do it. There is no faking your brand. Sooner or later the authentic you is revealed and when it is that becomes your brand. 

 

To build a strong leadership brand you must first realize it’s not all about you. Your work experience and personal accomplishments matter but as a leader they pale in comparison to what you do for other people. 

 

Always be evaluating the best way you can help other people succeed and where you can add the most value to your people and organization. Once you determine that then you know where your focus should be. 

 

Remember that today more than ever your personal life is your public life. Your personal life reflects who you really are. What you do in your private life is your private life only as long as it doesn’t affect your ability to lead others. As someone in a leadership position, your personal life is open to scrutiny. 

 

Your ability to lead others will increase if people respect you. Posting your wild weekend behavior on social media does nothing to improve your credibility or your ability to lead others. You may see yourself as two versions of the same person but most everyone else will not make that same distinction.

 

Once you have a bit of credibility you can build on it by doing what you say you will do. How many times has someone told you: I’ll get back to you on that – then never followed up? Authentic Leaders don’t make promises they can’t or won’t keep. Trust is lost when promises are made and then broken. Keep your promises and you will build relationships built on trust. 

 

One of my favorite movies is Liar Liar about an attorney played by Jim Carrey. This attorney, a well known liar, was suddenly thrust into a position were he was unable to lie. He was forced to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. The complete and unvarnished truth. It caused him serious problems. People were actually insulted by the truth. But that was a Hollywood production. In real life it’s far better to tell the truth all the time. The worst thing a leader can do is to not be open and honest with people. Trying to hide information will always catch up with you. Tell people everything they need to know, even if it’s bad news. A lie can be forgiven but it’s hard for people to forget that you lied to them. You might not ever fully recover. 

 

Some leaders see their position as loftier than others. That causes them to look down on people, even if only subconsciously. Leaders with a strong leadership brand treat people as equals. The more “perks” you provide yourself and other leaders in your organization the more distance you put between yourself and the people you’re supposed to be leading. There is no question that top leaders in any organization have earned additional benefits and compensation, but be aware that leaders are in the spotlight in more ways than one. Too many perks can make that spotlight so bright that it actually melts away your leadership credibility.

 

As a leader you must make certain that all your people have the same opportunity to achieve the success that you have. Never lose sight of the importance of humility to a leader. There aren’t many things uglier in life then an arrogant person in a position of leadership.

 

It’s a worthwhile investment of a leader’s time to occasionally do a “brand check” to determine the strength of their leadership brand. Don’t trust yourself with this one….ask others, a coach or mentor for their opinion of your brand. Even more importantly, ask the people you lead how you are doing. 


If you get mixed responses that’s a good thing; your people trust you enough to be honest with you, that’s makes for a pretty darn good brand.

How to Maintain a Positive Attitude

Here’s an often debated age old question… which came first, the chicken or the egg? Here’s a much newer question still often debated… which comes first, success or a positive attitude?

 

The definitive answer to that first question can be found early in the Book of Genesis. The much less definitive answer to the second question can be found in this post.

 

Many people believe that successful people have a positive attitude because they have it made. Other people believe that successful people made it because they had a positive attitude all along. 

 

Count me in the second group. A positive attitude comes before success!

 

While it might be easier to maintain a positive attitude if you’re successful that doesn’t mean it’s easy. A positive attitude requires a conscious decision to make it so. Without that conscious decision it’s very easy to drift into negativity. Sadly, negativity is all around us and we can be overwhelmed by it when we let our guard down. 

 

The good news is that with a little focus, well okay, maybe a lot of focus, anyone can have a positive attitude. 

 

That focus includes a resolve to not let “things” get you down. Decide before negativity strikes that you will respond in a constructive and positive way. I know what you’re thinking…if only it was that simple. 

 

I know that it’s not simple but it is possible and with a coach or mentor it can even be likely. It’s darn hard to overcome negative input without help so ask someone who cares about you to help. Have them remind you that you’re working on controlling your attitude. Allow them to hold you accountable until you can do it on your own.

 

Do you ever talk to yourself? You likely just did when you asked yourself that question. Everybody talks to themselves from time to time and it’s important that when you do that you’re saying something positive. That’s even more important if you happen to be talking about yourself. 

 

Remind yourself that challenges most often lead to growth and to maintain success you must keep growing. Accept challenges as learning experiences and you’ll find them a little less frustrating. I know that’s easier said than done but not much worth having comes easy. Keep that in mind.

 

Dream again! Dream your dream as if it were new. Turn your dreams into goals and develop a written plan that’s states exactly how you intend to achieve those goals. Don’t forget that there will be obstacles along the way. Your plan must include specific actions you will take to overcome those obstacles. Knowing how you’ll solve a problem before the problem even shows itself, helps to minimize the negative effects that problems in general can have on your attitude. 

 

Finish and end your day on a positive note. You may not wake up with a negative attitude but checking your email and social media as soon as you’re up can take you to your negativity zone pretty darn quick. Start your day with a bit of inspiration, both Siri and Alexa can help with that, just ask. A good breakfast will fortify your body for the day and some good positivity will do the same for your attitude. 

 

Don’t finish your day with email or social media either. I’ve started writing a single Thank You note to someone just before bed. It reminds me of all the people and things I’ve been blessed to have in my life. It’s nearly impossible to go to bed with a negative attitude when you’re thinking about how good a life you actually have. 

 

Circumstances can make choosing a positive attitude a humongous challenge but there has never in the history of humanity been a circumstance that could fully remove that choice. 


Remember that and then chose positive!

The Real Problem With Millennial Employees

Much has been written about the differences between the Millennial generation and other generations. It’s true that there are differences and some of those differences are substantial. 

 

It’s also true that there are more similarities between Millennials and other generations than there are differences. Millennials have similar career goals. They share many of the same values especially when it comes to leadership values.  They change jobs for many of the same reasons as their parents and grandparents did. 

 

Despite an opinion that is way too popular, Millennials are not slackers. Far from it actually. They work as hard and long as most baby boomers. They care just as much, they are as passionate or even more passionate about what they do and how they do it than the average baby boomer. 

 

One key difference is a desire for more flexibility. They don’t want flexibility in order to do less work. In fact it’s the contrary; they want more flexibility to be able to weave their work and personal lives together. They are willing to work long hours, they just want a little more freedom to choose which hours they work. 

 

This presents challenges for organizations that have Millennials in customer facing positions. But the reality is that too many baby boomer leaders/managers simply want to control which hours their people work. They feel that way because when they were rising through the ranks their work hours were determined for them. That’s old thinking. That’s expensive thinking too!

 

Here is some more old thinking and it’s even more expensive thinking. 

 

Most companies encourage their new employees to spend their first few years in the organization learning the ropes. It makes perfect sense because very few entry level employees know how to apply their “school knowledge” to real life work situations. 

 

The problem with that mindset of allowing  less experienced employees time to learn the ropes leads many managers/leaders to assume that their Millennial employees have too little to offer when compared to more experienced employees. 

 

But Millennials have much to offer. They are technologically savvy. They are nonlinear thinkers who don’t know that “something has always been done that way.” Millennials are willing to try new technology and are particularly adapt at exposing “group think.” I have to admit “group think” is often prevalent with my baby boomer generation. 

 

If you’re a leader of Millennials today you must be willing to risk allowing them more input into as many areas of your organization as possible. Yes, they have a lot of growing to do but that doesn’t mean they can’t help more experienced people grow in new areas at the same time.

 

People like me can learn so much from Millennials that sometimes I wish I was one. (But then I come to my senses) 


It turns out that the real problem with Millennials is more a of problem FOR Millennials. They have the ability to move slower companies into the future at a much faster pace. They only need to be given the chance. 

Do You Ever Wonder Where You are Going?

I wish I could say I’m surprised by how often I come across people who seem to be drifting through life. But I am not. 

 

The sad reality is that most people, the vast majority in fact, drift through life on a day-by-day basis taking what comes their way. They accept what happens and very often settle for less than they want or deserve. 

 

I suppose there could be many reasons that happens to people but one of the big ones, likely the very biggest one, is that they don’t have goals. True goals. Goals that are written out along with a plan on how they intend to achieve them. 

 

Direction in life comes directly from your goals. No goals means no direction. 

 

I understand why so many people lack true goals. It’s requires serious effort to first determine your core values and then set goals around them. Your core values are those values that you will not compromise on, regardless of the circumstances. Those core values guide every decision in your life. Beliefs can change over time, core values do not. 

 

Determining your core values does not happen overnight. It requires both reflection and introspection. The dividends of truly knowing your core values however are substantial. Your core values are who you are deep inside and once you know that, every decision becomes easier to make.

 

Once you’ve set goals around your core values you need to develop a plan, a workable, actionable plan, to achieve them. 

 

That plan must include the date AND time you will begin. I can’t tell you the number of great plans I’ve seen people create through the years and I can’t begin to tell you the number of those plans that were never implemented. You will not finish, you will never finish, what you do not begin. The pressure of a “start date” will push you to begin.

 

Remember, someday does not appear on a calendar.

 

The plan must also include a completion date. When will you accomplish each individual goal, do not leave yourself wiggle room by setting a date range. Nail it down with an exact date. You don’t want to almost accomplish your goals, you want total success.

 

Carve out time EVERY DAY on your calendar to work specifically towards achieving a goal. Success in achieving your goals will not happen by itself, YOU must make it happen. 

 

Do not allow yourself to get stuck where you are. Do not allow yourself to settle for less than you desire. Do not allow others to set your goals for you. And oh by the way, if you’re married the fastest way to being a better couple is to be a better you. Don’t forget to set some personal development goals along the way.


Goals are the beacon of light that can guide you through life’s never ending challenges. But for the light to shine you must have those goals in place. Set goals today and all your tomorrows will be better because you did.

Don’t Run Out of Time

I have to admit that I have little patience for people who tell me that they “don’t have time.” The fact is no one in the world has more time than they do. We all have exactly the same amount of time, 1440 minutes a day. No more, no less.

 

You will never have more time than you do today. You can’t “make time” and you can’t “save time.” Stop worrying about how much time you don’t have and start using the time you do have more efficiently. 

 

For starters you must understand the difference between being busy and being productive. While “busy” people can get tired they often don’t get done. Productive people always seem to have a plan to follow and a goal to achieve. They get stuff done! 

 

Here’s a simple repeatable process that many of those highly productive people use to stay on track.

 

Determine what to do: Ask yourself, “does this need to be done and if I do it what goal or objective does it get me closer to? If you can’t state with a high degree of specificity why something needs to be done then it may be busywork. Don’t do it!

 

Schedule time to do it: Do you control your calendar or does it control you? Only put things on your calendar that will lead to your goals and objectives being achieved. Once it makes it to your calendar, it must be done. The simple fact is that the most productive people have more discipline in this area than less productive people.

 

Focus: Use time management tools like block time and appointment bracketing to make sure you’re using your time well. Do not allow other people to interrupt you. Do not interrupt yourself with email or social media that can wait. And don’t kid yourself into believing that it can’t wait.

 

Stay hyper aware: Things change! As your priorities shift don’t be afraid to adjust and adapt, be sure to keep your goals and objectives in mind. Because something was vital at some point in the past does not mean that it is still vital today. Reevaluating your priorities from time to time is one of the most productive activities you can do.

 

Always be improving: Constantly be looking for ways to maximize your efficiency; never do anything because it’s always been done that way. Look for a better way. That said, never invest a minute trying to improve something that doesn’t need to be done in the first place. Shaving ten minutes from a thirty minute project that doesn’t need to be done is still wasting twenty minutes and don’t tell yourself otherwise. 

 

Don’t overestimate your capacity: Successful people don’t say they will do more than they know they can do. If you know it will overload you and cause you to lose focus then don’t commit to doing it. It is perfectly acceptable, in fact it is necessary, to say no to things that don’t get you closer to your goals and objectives. 

 

If you find yourself running out of time at the end of a day then something must change. Highly productive people would tell you that nothing can change if you don’t change first. 


So will you?

Give Sincere Compliments

Has someone ever given you a compliment and you weren’t sure of their motives? Perhaps it was even subconsciously. Maybe you downright wondered if they wanted something in return.

     

It’s nice to give compliments. It’s better to give unquestionably sincere compliments. The kind that leaves no doubt that you mean what you said and that you expect nothing in return. Sometimes we throw out complements in a sort of mindless fashion. We mean what we say but we don’t put enough thought into it to make certain the person on the receiving end knows how sincere we are.

     

An unquestionably sincere compliment actually has two parts. The compliment and the evidence to back it up. Think of it this way; you give someone a compliment and then notice a questioning look on their face. The look indicates that they may be wondering why you said that.

     

So don’t let them wonder.

     

Immediately after giving the compliment add “and the reason I say that is.” The “reason” is the evidence. It adds depth to the compliment and supports it’s sincerity. It leaves no doubt as to your motive for giving it. The compliment becomes more valuable.

     

This takes a bit of work, it requires some thought before you toss out the next “nice job” compliment. It’s worth it however when you see the difference in how people respond to what you’ve said. Give it a try and see for yourself.

     

I can’t end an article about giving compliments without at least mentioning the proper way to receive one. Never give a compliment back. By that I mean when someone says “nice shirt,” don’t respond by saying “this old thing.” When you say that you’ve refused the compliment and may have offended the person who gave you the compliment.

     

The only proper way of responding to a compliment is to say “thank you.” Nothing more is needed. Just say thanks!

You’re Not Always Right

One of the top two or three characteristics of great leaders is excellent judgment. Their decisions are right far more often than they are wrong. Those decisions produce favorable outcomes for their organizations and their people. Not only are they right far more than they are wrong, almost all of their biggest decisions, the crucial ones, are spot on.

 

Almost.

 

No one can be right all the time. 

 

I love confidence in a leader so long as that confidence is tempered with an understanding that being right often and being right always are not the same thing. I’m guessing a little bit here because I’ve never been right so often that I’ve become overconfident in my judgment. But I’ve seen several instances where a leader has been right so often that they apparently forget what it was like to be wrong. 

 

That leads some to believe they can no longer be wrong. That’s an extraordinarily dangerous way of thinking. 

 

As a leader it is imperative that you never forget what it feels like to be wrong. When you lose that feeling it can lead to sloppy decision making. You no longer take the time required to gather the facts necessary to make good decisions. You can begin to assume too many things. You fall into the often fatal trap of thinking that your future is merely an extension of your recent past. You conclude that because “all” of your past decisions were correct that all your decisions are and will continue to be correct. 

 

You stop listening to the people who helped you make those good decisions in the past and decide to be your own counsel. That decision often leads to more wrong decisions but by this time you’re on your own. You have no one left to tell you how wrong you are. That downward spiral is difficult to stop. The good news is that it’s not impossible to stop. You must push yourself back to the basics of sound decision making and never leave that foundation again. No matter how many great decisions you make. 

 

The best leaders are confident and bold in their decision making but never to the point of assuming that they can’t be wrong. They know that they can be as wrong as anyone else. They put great effort into doing every bit of the due diligence required to supply their excellent judgment with the facts required to make great decisions. 


As it turns out one of the best ways to be sure you’re right is to at least consider the possibility that you could be wrong. Decide that you too can be wrong about most anything and you’ll be on your way to being right a whole lot more often.