Branding your leadership in a powerful, succinct, memorable way has never been more important than it is today. Companies are hiring and promoting at a significant pace, but they are being very selective. That’s the new economy, and if you want to get to the next level of executive leadership you have to be able to articulate your brand message with confidence, clarity, and authenticity. Here are four of the keys to crafting and broadcasting a great leadership brand.
1. Define and Clarify
Why do so few leaders have it together when it comes to their brand? There are two main reasons. One is that most people have trouble defining and understanding what is meant by “leadership branding.”
But the main reason is that most busy leaders don’t take the time to really discover and formulate their brands. If you cannot find the right words to express your leadership brand, how can you expect senior decision makers to understand it and promote you?
You have to know your key leadership attributes and selling points to clarify your brand. Match how your authentic core values with those of your organization, and document your successes. That requires an insightful inventory of yourself and a smart strategy for presenting your marketable assets in a convincing way.
2. Discover Who You Are
The easily avoidable but promotion-stopping mistake I see every day is one way or the other, leaders settle for projecting a more generic executive brand. As a result they simply blend into the corporate landscape, and their careers plateau.
Each of us has unique leadership attributes and experiences that nobody else can claim. What are they? Is it obstacles you overcame in your career? Do you have cross-cultural or inter-departmental experience?
What about your teams? Have you developed raw talent or achieved remarkable results through team leadership? Maybe they are special skills you have from education, training, or executive development.
3. Get to Work
Line those up with what your organization wants and needs. If your skill sets have gaps, get busy acquiring new ones. Career-long promotions only come to lifelong learners!
Then formulate your brand into a concise, articulate message you can project 24/7. Think of your brand as a Fortune 500 ad campaign. You would not roll out a generic one, or throw one together on the fly. If you want to achieve top leadership marketing, you have to have a top-flight executive leadership brand.
You should be able to explain your unique leadership brand in a one page statement and in a one-paragraph bio. You should have three different versions of your brand ready as “elevator speeches” that you deliver off-the-cuff. One of my best promotions, for example, came to me because I wound up literally in the elevator with a senior decision maker who was impressed with my leadership brand!
4. Market Your Mentoring
A 2015 survey by the agency EY – which analyzed responses from nearly 10,000 employees in eight of the world’s leading economies found that mentoring is now a highly valuable leadership skill. A majority of those asked said they would leave their job if there was a significant lack of access to mentors.
Just imagine how important that is to them if they are willing to quit their jobs! Now imagine how much filling that critical mentor role will raise your profile and your intrinsic value as a leader. How do you do it? First you need to acquire the executive development skills that make you a powerful, resourceful, sought-after mentor.
Identify your blind spots and vulnerabilities, then take steps to strengthen your leadership brand, executive competency, and influential presence. Intentionally position yourself as the leadership model for your organization and industry, and watch your professional equity soar.