Establishing Your Leadership Brand

Establishing Your Leadership Brand

November 19, 2019
5:31 pm

A leadership brand is a strategic tool that offers direction and motivation to leaders who aim to be more focused in their goals. It provides an understanding of who you are, what you want, and what aspirations you hope to achieve.

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You already have a leadership brand, whether you know it or not.  But,  

  • Is it the brand you want?
  • Did you create that brand intentionally?
  • Or, did you allow other people to create your brand for you?

Taking the time to write down your leadership brand can reinforce priorities, create space for feedback, and allow for personal reflection.  

In order to build a strong leadership brand, there are three critical ingredients:

1. Reflect:

Reflect on yourself and your goals as a leader.  

  • What are your aspirations?
  • What results do you want to create in the next year? Next two years? Next five years?
  • What do you do well now? What are your strengths?
  • What do you want to be known or remembered for (i.e., your legacy)?
  • Who are you? How do others define you? How do you define yourself?

Example: I aspire to be a positive, relentless leader that grows my organization from local to statewide.

2. Create:

Create your leadership brand by writing it down.

  • Write down a list of personal attributes (adjectives).  
     -If you could only keep one or two, what are they?  
         -What adjectives cause you to grow or stretch?  
  • Construct your leadership brand by merging your top attributes and your decided leadership purpose.
      -Form complex attributes, such as "driven visionary" from driven and visionary.  
         -Ulrich and Smallwood in HBR suggest the format: "I want to be known for ____ so that I can deliver ___."

Example: My top attributes are positive, inspired, driven, risk-taker, and prepared. My leadership brand is “I want to be known for being a caring, risk-taking steward so that I can deliver responsible results for my organization.”

Download a free leadership development template:

3. Execute:

Make your brand identity real.  

  • Do you behave consistently?
  • Is your behavior consistent across mediums, including your preparation for projects/meetings, your LinkedIn profile and posts, or your social media presence?  
  • Get feedback from colleagues and trusted relationships. Ask them how you’re doing, and be grateful for critical, cordial, and constructive feedback.  
  • If necessary, rebrand yourself based on feedback, insights/realizations, life changes, job changes, etc. Your leadership brand may evolve over time.

Example: After reflection, I see that my LinkedIn does not accurately reflect the caring environment we create at my organization. I need to better display our organizational culture in order to recruit matching talent.  


Establishing a strong leadership brand requires thoughtful focus, self-awareness, and discipline. Having a clear and authentic brand will highlight the most important aspects of your character and accentuate your unique strengths. It will build confidence among internal and external stakeholders in your abilities, strengthen your commitment to defining yourself as a leader, and enhance your organization’s reputation.  By thoughtfully managing and continuously shaping your leadership brand, you will be able to maximize your effectiveness as a leader while differentiating yourself from peers.

Sources: Smallwood, Norm, and Dave Ulrich. Building a Leadership Brand. Harvard Business Review, July 2007.

Download a free leadership development template:

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November 19, 2019
5:31 pm
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