Brand New Brand You

In a recent Vibe 360 feedback coaching session with one of my clients, we were discussing and exploring the concept of perception; what people think of you and whether it matters.

My client’s 360 feedback had thrown up some ‘blind spots’ and they were struggling to come to terms with some of the feedback that had been offered as part of the 360 process.

During in the conversation, I asked the question, “What do you want to be famous for?”

The (quick) response was “I don’t want to be famous”.

Famous /ˈfeɪməs/ adjective

Known and recognised by many people. Synonyms: well known; celebrated; renowned; legendary

Reflecting on this after the session, I asked myself some questions and wondered whether, as a leader in 2019, we have a choice. By that I mean, what are the expectations of a leader in today’s society? Do we need to take some of the notions of ‘being famous’ to be successful? Surely as a leader, we should be ‘known and recognised’ for what we do and how we do it. Aren’t great leaders celebrated and renowned for what they have achieved?

“I want to be known for being ______________ so that I can deliver __________.”

I’m not sure I answered all my questions (still working through it) however I do believe for today’s leader to be successful, it essentially comes down to personal brand; what we are known for and what we deliver. Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing an image or impression in the mind of others about yourself.

In Be Your Own Brand, marketers David McNally and Karl Speak define personal brand this way: "Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you."

It’s a leadership concept has really taken off in the last few years. As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said “your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”. As with any other brand, your personal brand is based on people’s expectations of how you will behave or perform. Leaders shouldn’t underestimate the power of leadership branding when it comes to the reputation of the company they work for. According to a recent study from Weber Shandwick, global executives attribute 45% of their company’s reputation to the reputation of the CEO. That’s nearly HALF! Additionally, a CEO’s reputation plays an important part in attracting employees to a company (77%) as well as motivating them to stay (70%)

For a brand to be successful, it has to understand who its audience is and how it interacts with that audience. Look at Nike, Apple, Coca Cola etc. They are absolutely clear about who they need to market to and who they need to attract. David Beckham, Kim Kardashian, Jamie Oliver, and Barack Obama are all good examples of how they have built their brand: by knowing their audience and giving them what they want.

The same applies to leadership branding, what does the audience want from their leader?

Experts predict that by 2020 millennials, now aged between 22 and 37, will make up 35% of the global workforce, while ‘Generation Z’, aged 21 and younger, will make up 24%. So by next year, more than half the entire workforce population around the world will be made up of younger workers, and this figure will rise to roughly 75% of the global workforce by 2025.

Considering their powerful effect on trends, technological innovation, workplace culture and even the way we communicate, leaders have to adapt to attract and retain the attention of this impatient generation and its successors, Gen Z.

There have been many recent studies that asked what millennials want from a leader. Some of the top answers included the following:

  • Mentoring and feedback
  • Integrity
  • Authenticity
  • Creating a relationship of trust and understanding
  • Let people fail and help them get back up
  • Give space for growth

For a modern leader to be successful, these traits must be high on the list when considering what we want our reputation as a leader to be.

In summary, a leadership brand is created by the way people behave, react and interact. It helps leaders define their value proposition and maximise their impact and influence on the organisation culture.

You already have a leadership brand, you have a reputation based on your current leadership skills. So why not take some time to reflect and establish what your current leadership brand is?

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