Create Your Leadership Brand Statement In 3 Steps

Leadership Brand Article Cover Image - Leading Choices Leadership Communication Newsletter

We previously looked at 12 prominent leadership styles and practical ways to find your own leadership style. In today’s edition of Leading Choices we look at the steps you need to take to shape your leadership brand in this three-part series on leadership styles:

  • Part 1 – Definition of Leadership Styles and Frameworks and When They Work Best
  • Part 2 – How to Find Your Personal Leadership Style (and Remain Authentic)
  • Part 3 – Creating Your Leadership Brand

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What’s A Leadership Brand Anyways?

In today’s terms, every individual is their own brand. You may or may not agree, but I believe this is the result of a highly individualized social media-centric “influencer culture.”

When you think about a brand, you may instantly think of specific companies you admire. Maybe their logo or tagline pops into your mind (or that memorable jingle from their TV ad). Maybe it is their most famous product. 

A brand is the sum total of associations you connect with a company or person. It is the external projection of an image that tells you what the company wants you to remember about them. This should make it easier to relate the term branding to your leadership style. In essence, your brand portrays to the world how you see yourself – and want to be remembered – in terms of your leadership. 

A well-defined and managed brand:

  • helps others to know what to expect when reporting to you
  • gives employers an understanding of how you lead and where you fit
  • gives you clarity about your strengths and challenges
  • increases your self-awareness and mindfulness in your interactions
  • helps you to be known for the things you want to be known for (versus the image being either completely unclear or being determined externally) 

How You Build A Leadership Brand

Before you can build your leadership brand, you have to understand your own leadership style, your strengths, and challenges, and have clarity around your vision. The previous two articles in this three-part series covered leadership frameworks and styles and when they work best. They also covered in practical ways what you can do to find your own leadership style as you discover your strengths and determine what combination of the described styles make up your leadership style.

Once you “know thyself” in terms of how you lead, what your vision for great leadership is, and what your strengths (and challenges) are, you can begin to outline how you want to be remembered. The shortest version of that would be the analogy of a tagline. 

leadership brand tagline examples

For your leadership brand, this will be the infamous elevator pitch that lets you focus on the most critical points you want people to remember when the doors open and everyone leaves.  It may also become your one-sentence introduction during events and meetings. 

This may be the hardest part to get to. When I work with my clients, the early versions look nothing like that crisp, executive-level introduction. As you start, this may look more like an unstructured assembly of your values, strengths, leadership style or your preferred style of work. You will continue to refine the statement until you have captured the essence and have confidence that it conveys it well.   

As you piece together these different elements, patterns will emerge. As you reflect on what worked well and why, you can begin to form principles. Those principles are a combination of your core values and lessons learned that inform your decisions and shape your interactions. It helps others to understand how you “tick.”

How To Craft Your Leadership Brand Statement

Let’s divide this into three parts: 

  1. Your Leadership User Manual (what makes you “tick”)
  2. Your Leadership Bio (your “about” profile or PR statement)
  3. Your Leadership Introduction (your 30-second pitch)

1. The Leadership User Manual (Or Onboarding Profile).

This would be your longest version describing you as a leader. It will focus on describing your leadership in detail. The purpose of a leadership user manual is to give others a better orientation of what to expect when working with you. On top of that, it helps you to have better self-awareness and to lead with intention, fostering greater coherence between your ideal vision and your day-to-day interactions.  You can look at this example of a leadership user manual by Abby Falik.

Your Leadership Style. This will describe how you lead and how your style may adjust to different challenges. To describe your style, you can borrow language from a hybrid of the previously shared 12 leadership styles, and feedback received from your leadership and/or patterns that emerged from 360 reports. You can also take a simple leadership style quiz like the one USC offers which returns a summary that you can copy and modify as needed.

Your Core Values. Your core values drive your decisions. They determine your priorities. Anyone working for you would benefit from knowing what matters most to you. You can use a value clarification exercise to get started.  

Your Strengths. In the last post, I talked about finding your authentic leadership style as a combination of popular styles and your personality. Personality assessments like the MBTI, DISC, Strenghtfinder, Hogan, and many others will help you to have greater clarity and vocabulary to express your strengths. Results from performance reviews and 360 assessments will give you even more specific verbiage and examples to express your strengths and list your leadership skills. This will allow you to share how you can best support your direct reports, peers, and leaders. 

Your Challenges. Yes, it is OK to share challenges or weaknesses. We all have them. Your team will find out sooner or later. Transparency isn’t just good for building trust, it will also help you to share how those you hire can best support you. To express your challenges, you can provide examples for context and use the resources from your strength statement to lend you the words you need. 

Your Expectations. You can get creative here. I have worked with leaders who detailed every possible scenario – from performance reviews, 1-on-1 meetings, and ELT meetings, to pitch deck dress rehearsals. Think about what scenarios you will encounter the most, how significant they are, and what creates the highest value from your point of view. 

This is also the part where you can share what you have learned in the past that works well or doesn’t work well. Think of the recently circulated leaked email from Elon Musk on productivity. As controversial as it has been received, it paints a clear picture of what is expected, and why. Note that it also gives permissions that need to be expressed. In the example, Elon Musk gave express permission to walk away from a meeting if no value is being added. In some organizations, this may be revolutionary and unthinkable without a leader’s clear direction. 

Your Vision. Your leadership vision statement paints a clear picture of the future and how you want things to look when you’re done. It should include: a description of the organization’s mission and purpose, the desired outcomes, what success looks like using SMART goals, and what kind of people will be needed to help achieve the mission.

Creative Option: You could take it a step further by watching this video about developing a literal user manual with the creative advice given by Kevin Kruse.

2. The Leadership Bio.

This will be your leadership “about” profile – the shorter, one-to-two paragraphs long statement describing your leadership style, your core strengths and leadership skills, and your vision. And to round it off, it often includes 1-2 key accomplishments and positions you’ve held. 

Hubspot created a guide to writing a great bio, including examples for a wide range of professions and career levels. Take a look at the leadership bios for inspiration. 

3. The Leadership Introduction or Pitch.

This is the 30-second version of your leadership bio. It is representing the essence of all previous parts, condensed into your leadership brand summary. It is easiest for most leaders to start with the leadership onboarding profile before narrowing it down to the shortest version ending up as your introduction, tagline, or pitch.

Consider these examples from the Indeed blog:

  • I will support my employees in their endeavours and reward exceptional performance to motivate them to reach their goals.
  • I will create an open line of communication between my employees and I to create stronger professional relationships.
  • I will lead with fairness, humility, and positivity to create a work environment that is enjoyable and productive.
  • I will lead by example by working hard, reaching my goals, and always being punctual.
  • To continue working toward being a leader that I would be happy to work for. I will create a welcoming environment so my team can feel happy about coming into work.
  • I will help my organization grow by consistently onboarding new clients, building strong relationships with them, and encouraging my team to do the same.
  • I will strive to be a role model by working with integrity, honesty, and a positive attitude.

Create Your Online Profile

Once the foundational work is done, you can begin to use your carefully crafted copy to share it publically. You can keep your leadership user manual ready to share during onboarding, and a 1-page bio to share with corporate communications, for example.

One very public place to share your leadership bio is on LinkedIn. While press releases are static, you have more control over your LinkedIn account and can modify your About statement over time. Your online bio is visible to organizations and can also be seen by prospective employees, who will get a better orientation of who they will interact with or work for. 

Take a look at these examples from leaders who created great online profiles like this GM, these two COO LinkedIn profiles (example 1 and example 2), or this VP Sales LinkedIn profile example.

Continuously And Actively Maintain Your Leadership Brand

Leadership Branding is a continuous effort. The first part is done, Now you will begin to continuously engage in living out your leadership brand, refining it as you face new challenges and adapt to them, and as you learn and grow. 

In addition, knowing your leadership style and having developed your leadership brand statement isn’t the same as creating a strong leadership brand. Brands require continuous interaction and communication to reinforce the image and to become memorable. This requires you to:

  • Monitor your interactions with others – at work, outside of work, and online – to ensure consistency with your intention.
  • Be intentional about how you show up. Set your intention for every meeting. Reflect and correct if necessary. 
  • Communicate appropriately: during reviews, onboarding, 1:1s, on your career profile, or in your online interactions. The latter is crucial to your perception outside of your organization: What you like, comment on, or share on your feed is an extension of your brand. It can be the trait or subject you want to be known for, a reflection of your values and principles. 

You are your own brand ambassador. Whether it is online or in your current organization, or during job interviews. Each time you show up to the world you get the opportunity to shape your brand. Let’s talk about interviews next.

How To Respond To “What’s Your Leadership Style?” In Job Interviews

First impressions matter as the saying goes. When you meet others for the first time, you have an opportunity to create clarity about who you are and what you stand for – your brand. Job interviews are one of those opportunities. One of the questions I sometimes get asked to help respond to is the question “What’s your leadership style?” and it represents a great branding opportunity.

Why does the interview question “What’s your leadership style?” matter? It is helpful because it allows both parties to determine cultural or organizational fit. So, having clarity about your values, strengths, and style will help you to determine if the position is right for you as much as it helps the organization you’re interviewing with. 

Start with your summary or leadership pitch.

You can begin by sharing your prepared leadership pitch – the short version – and expand if your interviewer is interested in hearing more. This is where the preparation of the three parts illustrated earlier helps you to be ready to respond – in summary, or with more detail. 

Share specific examples.

When you prepared for your leadership user manual, you reviewed a wide range of information that revealed your personal leadership style. When you reviewed your 360 report or answered questions from a leadership or personality assessment, you certainly had to relate to real-life scenarios. Use those scenarios to illustrate what your leadership style looks when it is applied in daily operations. 

Show results. 

What are you able to achieve through your vision, ambition, strength, and style? What are some key achievements you can highlight during an interview that give tangible examples of what you are capable of? 

Related Resources To Help You Prepare For Leadership Interviews

What will you do next to shape your brand?

(#LC027)

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