Developing your personal leadership brand – it is your differentiator in a sea of other talent and answers your personal “why” statement.

Developing your personal leadership brand – it is your differentiator in a sea of other talent and answers your personal “why” statement.

May 2020

Written by: Kelly Renz, President & CEO

Crafting and maintaining a personal leadership brand is a game-changing asset in advancing and succeeding in one’s career. However, the amount of time leaders spend on their brand tends to be minimal.  Defining your personal leadership brand is a powerful process of self-reflection, evaluation and commitment to growth.

Think about it this way:  Brand marketing is not a whole lot different than personal leadership branding.  For example, between the two pictures here is the difference between a generic category, coffee, and a recognizable global brand, Starbucks.  Like this, you need your brand to be uniquely yours and representative of your authentic self.  It’s what will set you apart in your career because others will know what to expect from you, which build trust, and much like building brand loyalty for consumers.  In this case, it’s building brand loyalty to from your team around you.


The process for developing your personal leadership brand:

Building on Emotional Intelligence learnings about self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, you can use a thoughtful process to accurately identify your current leadership brand and closing the gap on what may be more aspirational development of your brand. Developing one is truly a process, starting with understanding the key make-up of your own unique brand components, which we call the Why, What and How.

Creating a Personal Leadership Brand requires candid, authentic self-reflection  Below are several questions that you can answer to start thinking about yourself in a different and deeper way and identify your Why ,What How questions. 

  1. What behaviors do the most influential people at work have in common?
  2. In what ways and settings are you viewed as an expert or emerging expert?
  3. How do people introduce you to others and what do they say about you as they introduce you?
  4. Reflecting on the last few challenging situations you’ve encountered at work, were your outward behaviors consistent with your leadership expectations of others?  Did you do well or fall a little short? 
  5. When was the last time you felt your work and natural style of working/behaving were in sync?  What about the situation made you feel that way?

Next, categorize your reflection answers into the appropriate Why, What, How buckets as described below:

Why What How

For example, here is an excerpt from my own personal Why, What and How.  These are the guiding statements and principles I apply to my own personal leadership brand.  They should be recognizable by others because my actions are both consistent through my actions and decisions, as well as congruent with what I say:

Why (my “true north” and what makes me tick”):  Grow for a lifetime by leaning into my discomfort.  Create an environment around me where others can realize and reach their potential.

What:  The foundational and core beliefs that fulfill my WHY:

  1. If I’m not uncomfortable, I’m not growing.  Push the limits and boundaries.
  2. Trust is given, not earned. 
  3. How you treat people greatly influences outcomes – good and bad.  What goes around comes around.
  4. Change is constant – embrace it because it’s coming regardless if I’m ready or not.
  5. Relationships are like bank accounts – to make deposits helps them grow.  To make withdrawals, you have to have the equity there in the first place.

How:  Identifying strengths and developmental action plans for continuous growth

  1. Celebrate my strengths and build upon them:  Strategic Agility, Vision, Change Management and Results Focus
  2. Development areas:  Patience, delegation and empathetic communication
  3. Do this through: 
    • Continuous learning, reading and exploring.  Get outside myself and my company.
    • Reality test. Perform several assessments to determine alignment in my self-awareness and the data.  360-degree feedback. Does the data from others support my self-perception?  Are they congruent or different?