We learn the value of the elevator pitch early in our careers, so we can answer quickly if someone important asks, “What are you working on?” or “What do you do here?” Entrepreneurs that are pitching to an investor audience need to be able to summarise their killer idea in a dozen or so words.
But in our experience with senior leaders, we find that some executives neglect a certain style of elevator pitch. “What kind of leader are you?” and “What should we know about your leadership style?” A good response could help you get a promotion. Determining your leadership style will help you create trust with your team. Consider it your own leadership brand—what you stand for, your values as a leader, and what you demand from others.
It’s not that no one has anything to say. Some would say they believe in “servant leadership,” are results-oriented, and value excellence and integrity.
And they’re right. Simply put, they employ vague phrases and speak at such a high level that they don’t convey any concrete information about their behaviour. Corporate goal and purpose statements often revert to a version of “making the world a better place,” a cliché easily ridiculed.
A personal brand’s worth
Like corporate values, your personal leadership brand is put to the ultimate test under duress. Do you abandon your values, promising yourself a return when things calm down? Or do they matter more then?
The leadership test
Here are some questions we utilise to help executives establish their true leadership brand:
- As a leader and a coworker, what are the three values you hold most dear?
- How have you exemplified these values?
- Why are they vital to your success?
- How would you describe your leadership style and philosophy to a potential new team member?
Allow yourself plenty of time to reflect if you attempt to answer these questions. Avoid using clichés or general remarks. Imagine taking over a new team of direct reports who ask you questions such, “What are your personal leadership values? Why do you value them? How do they look in action? “From where?”
Authenticity is often used to define leaders we admire. In terms of leadership, that implies being trustworthy, reliable, and honest. If you work for a real leader, you won’t have to wonder which version of the boss will show up on any given day, depending on their mood or their stress levels.
All aspirants to the top should strive for such constancy. In other words, do you know who you are as a leader?
You Need a Leadership Brand
Your personal leadership brand should reflect not only what you deliver but also how you deliver it. If you aren’t aware of it, your leadership brand isn’t aligned with what you want it to communicate.
A well-tended leadership brand reflects your core principles and helps others and yourself understand who you are as a leader.
Why should you consciously and truly shape your leadership brand?
- A strong leadership brand can help you reach your career goals. Whether you seek a promotion or new challenges, you need a leadership brand that reflects your skills and interests. As you receive respect and appreciation for your leadership contributions, you gain opportunity and experience, which reinforces your brand.
- Your leadership brand can help you impact more people. Your brand reflects not only the work you perform, but also how you connect with others. Do you collaborate well? CAN YOU CREATE AND MAINTAIN Do you and your team have direction, alignment, and commitment? Your leadership brand is created by how you engage in the social process of leadership. Remember that your persona extends to online interactions.
- Your leadership brand sets you apart from other leaders. People know what to anticipate from you when you have a distinct leadership brand. Maybe you can organise difficult tasks, resolve conflicts, or develop others. Those skills should spring to mind when consumers think about your brand. You’ll be drawn into roles that value your talents, and given more opportunities to do the work you enjoy.
- A shaky leadership brand will stifle your advancement and keep you in situations where you don’t excel. Others may not be aware of your leadership talents, value, or contributions. Authentic self-promotion is crucial. You may find yourself working alone, unnoticed by your employer, critical stakeholders, or even peers. Jobs and promotions may elude you. You may potentially jeopardise your career.
- Managing your brand is a strong method to be real. Knowing your leadership brand helps you focus your actions. It clarifies what you should be doing — and not doing. The proactive method to work and lead is to articulate and cultivate your personal leadership brand. People can tell when you’re trying to be someone you’re not. Colleagues will ultimately notice if you are not being true to yourself and your principles. If your organisation does not value who you are and what you stand for, get a new job.
How to Test Your Personal Leadership Brand
When you consistently apply these suggestions to your own and others’ work, you’ll start to notice results.
You may have to decline invitations to work on numerous projects due to several demands. You may be asked to do assignments you enjoy. Colleagues may complement you on job characteristics that coincide with your leadership brand.
These are all signals of development, and your supervisor or other leaders in your organisation are probably noticing.
Even without much external confirmation, this is about an inward shift. Your leadership brand evolves as you advance inside your organisation.
You can grow your personal leadership brand by following these short- and long-term measures, constantly evaluating your progress, and putting in extra effort.