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.

Your Personal Brand

Backyard-Branding-lgIn the American west cattle ranchers “brand” each head of cattle to mark it as their own. The “brand” is literally burned into the hide of each animal and once branded it is permanent.

We, you and me and everyone we know, have a brand too. It’s our personal brand. It’s not burned into us but it does tend to get burned into the minds of those we deal with. Now here’s something that ought to make you think a bit, it might even scare you a little: Everything you say and everything you do either adds to or subtracts from your brand image.

Everything!

When you’re really good at something, say speaking for instance, you are recognized (branded) as a good speaker. Many things, how you speak, what you say, what you do and how you do it not only affect your personal brand but can actually become your personal brand.

Not all parts of a personal brand however are created equal. There is one part that stands out above all others. It’s called integrity.

When you do what you say you will do your brand becomes stronger. When you commit to doing something and then don’t do it your brand is weakened. You can excel in any other area but if you lack integrity your personal brand will never be as strong as it could be.

Now, if you’re like me you don’t spend much time each time thinking about how your actions (or lack of actions) are going to affect your brand. But perhaps you should.

I know it’s not possible to spend every minute of every day building your brand, but if you’ll commit even a few minutes a day to consider strategies to better develop your personal brand it will make a positive difference in almost everything you do.

Whether you know it or not you have a personal brand, it precedes you everywhere you go and it hangs around after you’ve left the scene. As long as you have to have a brand, why not do what you can to make it a strong one?