Do you see yourself as a leader?
This is a question that is always asked during performance reviews, promotional meetings, and leadership workshops. Chances are, if you are thinking of riding the career ladder, you have probably asked this question yourself numerous times.
But no matter how you answer it, others already have their opinions. They look at you a certain way, think of you a certain way, and unless you make serious efforts to rewrite their scripts, your reputation at work is pretty cemented.
In this article, we address how you can change that. From making a brand logo design for your personal leadership consultancy to living it daily, and demonstrating it to the entire world, we use a simple 5-step strategy to help you build your personal leadership brand from the ground up.
1. Outline What You Want To Be Known For
There are two things that we are dealing with here: office reputations and leadership styles.
We all have them and they both can be tweaked, modified, and adjusted.
Leadership styles are the more natural ways we deal with people, crisis, and situations. Some of us are pretty heads-on while others may be more collaborative. In total, there are 3 popular leadership styles that most people identify with.
• Authoritarian (clear expectations, strong command, distinct division between the leader and group members)
• Democratic (offers guidance, participates with the team, hold the final say)
• Delegative (little-to-no guidance, decision-making on the team, lack of direction)
On surface, it may seem like authoritarian leaders provide the greatest results while those with the delegative style are the poorest, the reality is more nuanced. It is true that delegative leadership does not work with most groups, it is the best-suited approach for dealing with a group of highly proficient experts – masters of their fields.
And authoritative leaders do provide the highest results but it is the democratic leader that is always successful in delivering the results that are of highest-quality.
Depending on your organizational role, your vision for your future, and your team, you can tweak and readjust your leadership style.
For example, if you are authoritative and set our clear expectations that leave little room for personal ownership, it may be perpetuating your office reputation as being an inflexible manager. Becoming more democratic, you can invite team feedback while still holding the final say.
Outlining the office reputation you want to enjoy, and discovering your natural leadership style, you can merge the two and become someone people feel comfortable and secure in following.
2. If You Can, Make That Vision Tangible
Let’s talk about the aspects of your leadership brand that will make you more visible. Your leadership tagline on social media, a personal emblem, a corporate uniform, and your most authentic voice.
To create a tagline – brand statement – that best represents you, make it true and to-the-point. The more real you are when you are online, the more loyal following you’ll get. An active social media presence allows your team, and the extended organization, to see you as leadership-material, someone with a voice and a say.
A personal emblem or symbol – a logo, in more basic terms – is another more visual and succinct way to present your brand to the world. Creative professionals as well as corporate leaders establish personal websites and logo designs to form a consistent, visual brand.
Also, the way you talk, hold yourself, the kind of humor you enjoy, the way you dress, it all adds to your reputation. Start aligning these with your future goals to ensure that when people look at you or talk to you, they can see the consistency and authenticity.
3. Incorporate Your Mission Statement in Your Day-To-Day
The brand statement that you have come up with in the previous point, needs to be lived every day. To elaborate this point, let me talk to you about Dan Price. He is the CEO of Gravity Payments and gained viral international fame in 2021 when he talked about how he took a pay cut so he could raise the salaries of his employees.
An entrepreneur since the age of 16, Dan Price prided himself on being a financially disciplined businessman who valued his employees. After a shocking encounter with one of his employees, he realized that he championing his employees was not as real or effective as he thought. They were suffering, and low wages were a leading cause.
The young CEO decided to reduce his salary by $1 million so he could set a minimum salary of $70K at his company. The move worked. The company thrived. It not only tripled its revenues but also increased its productivity, the turnover rate reduced, and fiercely loyal employees ensured that the company survive pandemic with flying colors – which it did.
Dan Price is now a subject of multiple business studies, magazine interviews, and college business classes. As a leader, he has established himself as a revolutionary and a crusader.
But that can only happen when your leadership vision is part of your daily routine. The whole thing that started this revolution was a chance encounter with an angry employee. It was Dan’s leadership brand of care and compassion that made him reach out and strike a conversation that would change everything. If you want your brand to become synonymous with your name, you need to bring it into your daily life and practice it every waking moment. There’s no room for artifice here because it is not sustainable. Base your brand on authenticity so it can consistently outshine the competition.
4. Demonstrate Your Brand to the World
As your brand starts taking shape and you begin to feel more confident in who you are as a leader, others start to notice, too. This opens up a vast canvas of opportunities where you are asked to talk about your leadership, work ethics, lessons learned, and roads travelled.
Think of public speaking opportunities, maintaining an active blog, running podcasts or producing videos, creating and running workshops, writing books and whitepapers, conducting or spearheading researches, and a lot more that allows you chances for addressing problems and proposing solutions.
All of this establishes your mastery of a subject and your authority as a leader. Putting in efforts, you can make yourself more visible online with strong SEO, paid ad campaigns, and active social media.
By demonstrating your leadership brand to the world, you invite a larger audience in and take part in conversations.
Having a strong leadership brand makes you more attractive for employers. Companies take note of their and other companies’ employees that are visible, enjoy a strong following, and a have a confident voice.
5. Connect With People and Foster Relationships
Remember that a leadership brand is not entirely about you. What other people think of you is a major part of it. The people that you keep in your social circle, connect with online, and are seen with frequently, influence how people view your personal brand. With that in mind, make a conscious effort to foster relationships that align with your values and character.
You also have to make sure not to remain neutral at all times. As a leader, others look up to you to take charge – even when presenting new thoughts or perspectives. That means a healthy amount of standing up for what you believe in and establishing relationships with organizations and institutions that make sense to you.
The deeper these connections go and the stronger your networking relationships are, the higher growth opportunities, financial freedom, and career innovation you can enjoy.
Also, do not be preachy all the time. A teacher/student and mentor/follower dynamics are not the only ones you need to focus on. No one likes someone who is always focused on themselves or telling others how to do things. Keep it light, fun, and even crack jokes at your expense. People who don’t take themselves too seriously are always the favorites.
All that said, remember that your leadership brand is supposed to evolve, change shape, and grow. In response to the changes in your career, personality, and expectations from life, your brand should move to reflect your most authentic and current self. This is the only way to keep your brand agile, alive, and exciting.
Author Name: Nina Hoffman
Author Bio: Nina Hoffman is a creative. She writes, designs, develops, and drives engagement through strategic content and ideas. Her forte is graphic design and she is a strong advocate of building innovative solutions to address B2B and B2C problems. Nina also helps brands develop visual presence through brand guidelines, identity design, and sometimes, UX optimization.