Successful leaders have presence. People know what they stand for and choose whether to follow them or not. What you stand for is about the essence of your leadership brand.
Typically we sum up well-known leaders in a few words, a ‘soundbite’– this is their essence. Steve Jobs was known for creativity and focus. Richard Branson for a relaxed approach and empowering his employees, Sheryl Sandberg stands for equality in work and life and taking the initiative to lead. What would be your ‘soundbite’?
1. Your personal brand
“It’s important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
This soundbite is what you are known for and is the core of your personal brand. It is now widely appreciated that we all have a personal brand, whether we actively do something about it or not. This used to be simply known as reputation and was mostly down to word of mouth, but social media has changed that. What you put on social media about yourself will influence how people see you.
There are many courses and books on personal branding, they agree that being clear on your personal brand is no longer optional for a leader, it is a must. If you want to lead, your followers need to know what you stand for, so they can decide if they want some of that.
As with product advertising, this essence is what is communicated to attract interest and followers. We know that people make a judgement about you in seconds, so the clearer you can be on what you stand for, the more likely that judgement will reflect you, rather than someone’s perception of you (See graphic below). So you too need to get clear on what you stand for.
Your ‘soundbite’ should reflect what is important to you, what you are passionate about and put your energy into. These are not passing fads, but deep-seated drives for you, things you always want to focus on and which shape how you deal with things. What energises you? What do you want to focus on? What do you want to have in your life?
2. Your Values Drive Your Behaviour
Your values are the things that are important to you. They inform your thinking and influence the decisions you make. So for example, if family is a strong value, you are likely to seek a role that allows you to spend quality time with your family and avoid one that means you’re travelling and away from home a lot.
If you do find yourself in a job which demands you spend a lot of time away from your home and family, you are likely to feel bad about this. You may feel guilty towards your family and resentful towards work. This is because your value has been compromised.
It is worth spending some time drawing out your values and identifying which are the most important to you. This will help you clarify what you want in your life and you will be able to seek out situations where you can live your values. You can analyse how much of your time at work allows you to behave according to your values. This will be a good indicator of how satisfied you are at work.
If you need help in identifying your values, you could do an internet search for “values at work”*, you’ll find a number of sites offering a checklist that you can use to get you started. Go through the list to identify what is important to you at work. Pick out your top 10 and then prioritise your top 5 values – these will be the ones that guide your behaviour and decision-making at work.
When you are working from your values, you will find the work easier and more enjoyable and you will be more congruent. This means the personal brand you project will align with what others see. As a leader you could look for opportunities to create a work environment that brings these values to life. This will attract others who share your values.
3. Walk The Talk
“A leader leads by example not by force.” – Sun Tzu
When you project a clear personal brand and are happy to talk about what’s important to you and what you stand for, you will attract people and work that suit your style. Equally, you will repel those who don’t like your style and projects that would not suit the way you work. This is helpful as it allows you to be performing at your best and enjoying what you do and who you are working with. This can further reinforce your brand as you achieve good results and become known for these skills.
It’s important that you love what you’re doing and that you are your own biggest fan, because you feel you deserve it. If you are not convinced about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and what you stand for, you can’t expect anyone else to be. You need the passion and enthusiasm to talk up your leadership, not to boast, but because you genuinely feel you are doing the right thing and helping those you lead, and the organisation, to achieve great results.
Get clear on your personal brand and leadership presence and use this clarity to help you to communicate what you stand for and the results you are working for. Remember that social media is one aspect of that communication and ensure you post items that are congruent with your brand. Assuming you have honestly developed a personal brand that truly represents who you are, this should be easy as your activities will align with what’s important to you.
*Values at Work checklist: http://www.selfcounseling.com/help/personalsuccess/personalvalues.html
About the author
Amanda Bouch helps people become effective managers and leaders, build strong teams and deliver results for the organisation. Amanda founded abc – Amanda Bouch Consulting in 2002 and has over 20 years’ experience in people development. abc tailors the solution to you and your needs, whether this is coaching, training or facilitating a workshop. You can reach her at www.amandabouchconsulting.co.uk