“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Every marketer and business leader will tell you that the most fundamental thing for any product is the building, nurturing and protection of the brand. While products will come and go, and change over time, the brand is an omnipotent, durable element that fundamentally shapes consumer perceptions, intentions and actions. It embodies the identity, values, purpose and vision for any product or company, and can become equity that adds enormous value to an organization over time.
But what if we took this foundation of marketing and business, and then applied it to your team? How would you answer these fundamental questions?
Do you know what your team’s leadership brand is?
How would you tell the story of that brand?
Does your team have clarity, alignment and understanding of that brand?
While we all have different leadership styles, our values and actions must be aligned, consistent, and lived as we drive our teams and organizations forward. Using traditional branding models and marketing frameworks, there is a huge opportunity for leadership teams to define and articulate a brand and vision of what great leadership looks like within their organization. It’s a place in which the “marketer’s mindset” can be hugely powerful.
But Let’s Be Clear…It’s Hard Work
Through the work we all do to drive to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our team, it’s often hard to have a clear picture of our team’s brand. While people, priorities and challenges change and evolve over time (like products), your leadership brand never goes away. It’s always around you. In fact, it is you. And it’s shaped and owned by those around you through their perceptions, the conversations they have about you when you’re not in the room, and their interactions with you.
When it comes to ‘how we do leadership’, so many organizations wing-it rather than purposefully plan the leadership culture they want to create. Having a well-articulated leadership brand that clearly articulates how you lead through your values, and drives clarity against expected behaviours and desired results, will align your current and future efforts. Without out it, this question will always be persistent: “How do we know if we’re doing well?”
As noted psychologist and author Henry Cloud says, “In the end, as a leader, you are always going to get a combination of two things: what you create and what you allow.”
So we start by crafting what we want to create.
The Four Foundational Elements of a Brand
- Team Strengths/Weaknesses/Threats/Opportunities.
- What great leadership looks like for the team beyond performance and “getting it done”.
- Desired perceptions and experiences with stakeholders and higher-level leaders.
- Guiding values (existing and desired) and how they translate into behaviours and actions.
Mobilizing the Brand
But creating and establishing a brand is simply the starting point…the ongoing nurturing, evolution, and manifestation of the brand is where the work really starts:
- Living your brand values and being authentic to that brand through all the touchpoints with stakeholders, teammates, and others.
- Always role-modelling your leadership brand if you are the leader or most-senior member of the team.
- Perpetual listening and soliciting meaningful feedback from the people and organizations that interact with your brand, and being willing to refine your brand based on that feedback.
Getting Feedback On Your Brand – The Essential Ingredient
A fundamental component is the collaboration that you can ignite through your trusted colleagues and partners to get to a stronger understanding of the “lived experience” of your brand. Asking open-ended, non-judgemental questions that explore perceptions, experiences, and future needs will ground this pursuit of feedback. It can also become a unique opportunity to see things that are foggy for you today, like your team’s superpowers you can lean into or blind spots that you need to see and address.
Bringing It Together
When we reflect and align as a team, and then get the vital and honest feedback to clarify and challenge our brand, then we have the ingredients to move forward with purpose.
Just as in the product and business world, having a clear and unified view of your own brand becomes a trusted navigator and guide. The work to build your brand through this kind of model and process is purposeful, insightful work that anchors you and your team, and then becomes a living, evolving component of your shared career and development paths that you will continually improve, refine, and reflect upon. Think of it as a perpetual viewfinder that allows the world to see you the way you want to be seen, as the better version of yourself as a leader and how your team shows up. It becomes the platform by which stakeholders, supporters and other leaders become advocates for your leadership brand.
As we reach into the marketing toolbox for insights we can apply to leadership development and personal growth, the framework of building and living a brand is immensely powerful. I Ieave you with these three questions to reflect on as you think about this concept:
Do leaders know how to show up as leaders in your team?
Are you creating your leadership culture or just allowing it?
What do people in your organization say about you and your team when you are not in the room?
Fluency offers Leadership Team Branding as part of our Consulting Services to drive high-achieving teams forward. Read more here on our web site reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.