Your leadership brand is an ad for why people should buy what you have to offer, advised Alyssa Cox of Blue Swift Consulting during IABC DC Metro’s “Establishing a Leadership Brand” on April 19. During the gathering, the first of the chapter’s two-part leadership series, she discussed the key dimensions of a leadership brand. Guests also completed a guided exercise to craft their leadership statement.
“Memorializing your brand in words makes you accountable to that brand,” Alyssa said. “If you articulate what you mean to do, you’re much more likely to actually do things that way.”
Here’s an overview of the webinar:
1) Define your leadership brand: Alyssa noted the importance of being intentional. Everyday, multiple times a day, we have opportunities to be deliberate about how we behave and how we’re perceived. Intentionality shapes your reputation, as well as people’s perception of your brand.
Alyssa shared an anecdote about her former supervisor who advised that she learn who she was as a leader. He said: “If you don’t figure it out, other people will figure it out for you — and you may not like what they decide.”
2) Reputation vs. brand:
A. Reputation is what people see you do. It’s the narrative that other people craft about you.
Ask anyone who’s worked with you, and they’re going to have some kind of opinion about who you are and what you’re like. Your reputation is what people say, or don’t say, when they’re asked to describe you. Reputation is about other people’s observations, experiences, and perceptions of you. “Another way to think about your reputation is as a form of organizational equity,” Alyssa said.
B. Brand is what you mean to do. It’s the narrative you craft about yourself.
When it comes to leadership, you need to define your brand in terms of value. It’s both what you value, and how you drive that value for others.
As far as driving value in a team or organization setting, your leadership brand and your personal brand may be slightly different. They should be congruent, but they will speak to different aspects. When we talk about a leadership brand, it’s about how you drive value through others in a professional environment, as opposed to a broader personal brand that you may take into your interactions with your family, friends, and social settings. However, these elements should correspond as they are both based on your values.
3) Your leadership brand is made up of three components:
A) What you work on: This is basically what you do for a living. This portion of your leadership statement is intended not to be a summary of your work to-do list (eg, write press releases, lead an internal comms teams, etc.), but it’s about the worth you bring. Who is your customer, and what value do you drive for them as a communicator?
B) How you work with others: You can lead subordinates, peers, superiors, clients, and customers, and it comes down to values when we talk about how we work with others. Some sample words that might characterize your merits are: educate, listen, consistent, and innovative. These traits reflect your leadership style.
C) How you define success: This is an audience’s objective reason to buy from you. You are selling yourself to your boss and your boss’s bosses to promote you from within the company. Or maybe you’re selling yourself to a new employer, asking them to hire you. Or you might run your own communications firm, and you’re conveying to your clients why they should buy from you today and purchase more tomorrow.
Further, increasing revenue is how you define success. It’s about how you influence KPIs (key performance indicators) for your firm, customers, and company. One of the functions your leadership brand is doing is serving as a pitch to others to invest in you. It could be whether your subordinates invest their time to collaborate cross-functionally, or whether your boss and your boss’s bosses agree to invest time and energy to promote you or give you new and different responsibilities. “Money is a common language that we use to evaluate the relative merit of dissimilar investment opportunities,” Alyssa said.
Sample metrics for communications professionals might be:
• External communications: If you work in public relations, you might look at the number of pickups of press releases by various media outlets. These public perception metrics could have a positive impact on share price or revenue.
• Internal comms: As far as employee comms, you could gauge your work as it relates to employee satisfaction surveys and employee turnover.
4) A leadership statement might be:
For (key customer)
Internal communications department at Company XYZ,
I drive value by (kind of work you do)
Delivering interactive multichannel communications programming that helps our organization of 200 people understand the connectivity between what they do on a day-to-day basis and the larger mission of the enterprise.
I drive success through others by (your leadership style)
Educating, listening, being consistent, and offering innovative ideas and solutions.
I know I’m successful because (how you influence KPIs):
Employee satisfaction scores have increased and employee turnover has gone down. As a result, less revenue has been spent hiring new workers and this provides cost savings for the organization.
5) After completing your leadership statement:
A) Make your statement your own: Ensure your answers feel real as opposed to what you think you’re supposed to say. For each sentence, add personal stories that demonstrate how you live your brand.
B) Audit your statement: Once you’re happy with your declaration, find people in your life that are going to tell you the truth. Talk to people who know you, such as friends, colleagues, and mentors, who can point out areas where you’re not living your brand. You can then identify ways to close those gaps.
C) Socialize your leadership brand: Review your resume and LinkedIn profile and update both to line up with your leadership brand. Share your identification and narratives with your customers. Start to get comfortable with self-promotion using the language with which you’ve aligned. “If nobody knows who you are as a leader, then nobody will think of you as a leader,” Alyssa said.
Thank you, Alyssa, for sharing your expertise with our chapter. The second portion of her program will be “Leading Through Vision” on May 17 at 12 p.m. ET. Alyssa will explore the importance of setting a vision for your team that speaks to how your group drives progress toward your organization’s overarching mission, as well as the role vision setting plays in increasing engagement on your team. The cost is $10. Click here to register.
To learn about Alyssa’s organization, Blue Swift Consulting, and the services it offers — consulting, workshop facilitation, and keynote speaking — visit: blueswiftconsulting.com. You can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 919-610-1595.