Have you ever wondered how an approach to a project was perceived by your colleagues? Have you ever wondered if an interaction with a prospective client was at the level of professionalism you intended? You’ve probably dedicated brainpower thinking about your professional reputation. Reputation is important, but have you ever thought of how your reputation drives what you’re ‘known’ for? Your unique and distinct brand? Everyone has a brand…we may just not actually know what it is.
Let’s break this down…brands can range from celebrity icons to products and services that you trust and love. Those brands are unique and drive an emotional aspect as to why you connect with them. When we’re talking about your brand…we’re not talking about a service or solution you’re trying to sell to others. It’s how you show up. We all have a personal brand, but that doesn’t necessarily make it our leadership brand. So, what’s the difference between a personal and a professional or leadership brand? Your personal brand is what makes you distinct as a person. It’s how you are recognized by those around you, reflecting your values, strengths, priorities, and behavioral patterns. Let’s say that an element of your personal brand is that of a robust sense of humor. Your friends and family recognize this and know that a comedic time is ahead when you’re around. When you are intentional with your personal brand, it can reflect how you want the world to perceive you.
Your leadership brand is not just what makes you distinct as a person but as a leader. When you are intentional with your leadership brand, it reflects how you interact with stakeholders to produce value and results. Your personal brand will impact your leadership brand, but it’s not all that makes up how you show up as a leader. In our previous example, you may be the class clown in your friend group, but that might not be the presence you bring to your team as a leader. Not because you’re pretending to be someone else, but because it may not be the brand that you want to be remembered for as a leader. This doesn’t mean that you are not authentic in who you are…it just means you are intentional about how you show up and how you want others to perceive who you are and what contributions you make in the world.
What’s the difference?
The difference between these two brands is their primary focus. With your personal brand, you are the primary stakeholder. Your leadership brand is more about how you support stakeholders that surround and support you. It’s about how you deliver results, not just what you deliver.
Here are a few reasons why being intentional with your leadership brand matters:
- What makes you distinct as a leader drives your career. When you are respected, more opportunities are likely to come your way. Maybe you have a unique strength in how you resolve team conflicts, or you have ideation skills that take strategy to a new level. As you become intentional with your leadership brand, you’ll gain recognition that brings opportunities that are aligned with your aspirations and interests.
- How you work with others builds or breaks trust. Trust comes from consistency. When you bring clarity to your leadership brand it’s recognized by others. They begin to learn and know what to expect from you versus others in the organization. Someone with a strong leadership brand strengthens relationships and broadens impact with their stakeholders.
- Bring focus to leading more authentically. Your brand is comprised of your values, strengths, traits, and aspirations. It should be designed in a way that reflects the best in you. When you become more mindful and intentional with your brand, it is reflected in your actions. Writing your leadership brand statement down, and placing it in view, serves as a constant reminder and informs what projects and actions you take on.
Don’t leave your professional reputation to chance. When you take ownership of your leadership brand, you put yourself in the driver’s seat for your career trajectory. How? When you know what drives you, sparks passion, and gives you energy, you are more likely to start seeking out opportunities that help bring that energy to your work and your life.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Velocity’s Leadership Programs are dynamic and interactive workshops, combined with on-the-job integration activities along with toolkits and relevant frameworks to help make the learning “sticky”. For more information about our Build Your Leadership Brand Workshop and our Emerging Leaders Program, please email [email protected].
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