Leading Blog






11.07.07

Your Leadership Brand

According to Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood, leaders must live the image they want to portray to their customers (followers) and investors. That is their leadership brand. They write in Leadership Brand, “Leadership brand occurs when leaders’ knowledge, skills, and values focus employee behavior on the factors that target the issues that customers care about. Leadership brand is an extension of an organization’s brand identity because it shows up in the behaviors and results of leaders throughout the firm in a manner that bridges employee and customer commitment.” In others words, leaders must walk the talk.

Leadership Brand
But it goes beyond that. It is a philosophy that should permeate the whole organization in order to build leaders for future roles in that organization in alignment with that organizations leadership brand. It is something that is done at all levels by all leaders. Leaders who produce leaders “build a leadership brand by cultivating competence, sharing decision making and authority, imparting information, and distributing rewards.”

Organizationally, the process begins by asking not “What do I want to be known for?” but, “What do we want our customers to know us for?” Once determined, living that brand becomes a serious matter; one that should be taken with careful consideration. Leadership comes with a price. Leadership requires a great deal from leaders as their behavior is carefully watched and observed by others. The needs of the customers/followers come first. Accountability is not an option. This applies to any organization. Just ask Tom Haggard or Bob Nardelli. The higher up you go the more intense it becomes. The authors quote Gary Hamel who put it this way:
Authenticity is a huge multiplier of individual impact. And, at it core, authenticity is not about being true to oneself (whatever that means), it is about being true to the interests of those whose lives you want to improve and change. Mercenaries, careerists, and egomaniacs are me-centered. Great leaders are you-centered. (Nicely put Gary!)
What about a personal leadership brand? They take a chapter to outline this question. It begins with the question, “What do I want to be known for?” But it doesn’t stop there. Ever results oriented (Results-Based Leadership, 1999), the authors say that that question needs to be linked to a desired result so that your brand will endure. A brand statement should read something like this: “I want to be known for __________, __________, and __________, so that I can deliver __________ and __________ at work and __________ and __________ outside work.”

You then need to ask yourself if your leadership brand aligns with the organization’s leadership brand. If not, something needs to give.

Understanding the identity and needs of those you're leading is the driving idea behind the leadership brand. They conclude:
First, focus on the outside in instead of the inside out. Outside in means that customer (and investor) expectations should frame, focus, and influence leader behaviors. When leader know and do things that add value to customers, they are more likely to be doing the right thing. Second, focus not only on the personal attributes of a noble or successful leader but on leadership, or the cadre of leaders within you company. Based on these two principles, a leadership brand bridges the firm’s identity in the mind of those outside (customers and investors) with the behavior of its employees.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:56 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Development



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