Why It’s Critical For Leaders To Build Strong Personal Brands
People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. —John Maxwell
Can you be an effective leader without building a strong personal brand? A renewed focus on your personal brand might be just the thing to inspire you to greater heights in your leadership.
As technology and workplace continues to go mobile, modern life seems to be pushing us to compete more than ever, making it critical for us to differentiate ourselves, in order to reach our goals. And expectations are even greater for leaders to be out in front of all these market forces, to provide their vision and advice for others to move forward. So a strong personal brand seems to be a critical feature of leadership development. Leaders must develop their image consciously continue to invest in their brand and themselves, so that they can effectively serve the company and communities that they lead.
When you break it down, leadership isn’t just having the right knowledge or attitude, but it instead centers on the ability to work with groups of people to create positive impact in their organization and beyond. What follows are some strategies and concepts showing how a strong personal brand can help leaders create this impact:
1. Leaders have a clear vision
A leader has to set targets for the future, which requires unequivocal, easy to explain goals, along with defined plans to get there. They start by identifying what’s important, and being brutally honest about their strengths and abilities to get where they (and their company) need to go. They map personal development plans and determine how they’ll address any gaps to defining the wider company’s goals. One mark of a real leader is that they don’t hesitate when asked what their goals are, they always know what’s standing in their way, and they know if they’re on track to reach the results they want.
2. Leaders make an impression
Leaders know they can’t do it all alone. They have to motivate a wide variety of people and energize the larger community to take concerted action to solve problems and move the market. So leaders have to know what motivates their team, and then exert tremendous presence and influence to ensure that they get those employees to act — all while remaining helpful, genuine, and authentic. Sometimes this means being powerful and impressive like Superman and sometimes it means being approachable and open like Clark Kent, but in all the cases, they have to make an impression that gets results. Some leaders do this by making employees feel comfortable, or competitive, or nurtured, or important and most can vary their presence as they need to. But no matter what their style, leaders know that their employees are truly important assets in their organization, so it is the leader’s responsibility to inspire the team and drive their creativity in solving problems for the business.
3. Leaders live in their brand.
Lance Armstrong portrayed physical power and will in his leadership and his brand. But when he admitted the use of performance enhancing drugs to win titles, his leadership brand was immediately devalued. He didn’t live the brand he had built and advertised everyday in his work. Contrast his story with Steve Jobs,who was relentless in terms of his application of his personal brand, down to the black turtleneck and jeans he presented in.
4. Leaders know they have to stay visible.
You can’t lead the herd from inside it, much less from behind. So leaders use their charisma to attract and engage people, and it’s important that they are present publicly and at internal events to demonstrate their support for the organization and familiarize their audience with their vision. Often, this translates into regular presence in the social media and industry conferences.
5. Leaders don’t fear change.
When Richard Branson said “Branding demands commitment to continual re-invention and imagination,” he meant that successful leaders can’t sit on their past successes. True leaders build their brand through their approach to ‘what’s next,’ and not based on ‘what used to be.’ No one knows what the future holds, and so we look to leaders to be able to help us navigate the new landscape when it seems like everything we’ve always known is being thrown out the window.
It’s been shown that there is a strong correlation between leadership success and personal branding, so if you’re looking to lead others, you’ll want to start with yourself and your own brand. That’s how you can become the kind of leader that the world needs to meet the challenges of tomorrow.