Every leader has a personal leadership brand which might be carefully cultivated or intuitively perceived by leaders themselves and their followers. A personal leadership brand is an exclusive and a specific approach of a leader to address challenges and manage his/her transactions with their subordinates or followers. The best part of having a leadership brand is that it allows the flexibility to the leaders to define their own leadership objectives and then position themselves appropriately as per the need and situation. For example Lee Iacocca promulgated a leadership brand which was resolute, determined, persuasive and ready to take risks which helped him turn around Chrysler similarly Gandhi’s leadership brand was that of integrity, honesty, principles, strength of character and above all truth.
It is essential for a leader to practice his/her leadership brand in thoughts and actions. How can a leader build up a leadership brand if they do not have one already. A leadership brand helps distinguish leaders and also outlines their approach, values, beliefs etc.
1. The first step definitely is identifying and establishing the results one wants to achieve by the end of a specific time period with a focus on preserving the interests of key stakeholders.
2. The second step becomes those distinguishing features with which one wants to be known as a leader. For e.g. one might identify drive for result as one’s core strength area and can create a leadership brand based on the same.
3. The next step becomes defining your identity. One might chose two or three word phrases to define their approach to leadership like Innovating to Excel etc
4. The last step becomes coming up with a leadership statement which conjuncts what one wants to be known for and what one wants to achieve
It is also important for leaders to check their leadership brand with seniors, subordinates and other stake-holders to understand their expectations from the role; and if any disconnect is pointed out, it needs to be incorporated.
Apart from the above aspects, leaders need to role model themselves and redefine their perceptions and ambitions to encompass the entire institution, which they represent.
A leader needs to put the interests of the organization and stakeholders before his/her personal ambition and goals and strive to create success which is sustainable and does not need their constant presence.
The leaders need to understand that a personal leadership brand cannot be created overnight but credibility is earned the hard way, through years of perseverance. Once a leadership brand is created its acceptance and stability is established only after results are achieved. So, if a leader identifies certain goals but fails to achieve them, there are no takers for that leadership brand, similarly if a leader displays behaviors contradictory to what is outlined by his brand values, then also the credibility and respect of the brand is lost.