5 Ways to Build Your Leadership Brand

5 Ways to Build Your Leadership Brand

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions


Many companies have an ad hoc approach to developing their leaders, developing them as and when necessary to help them fulfill their roles.  The weakness here is that it is just about the company.

Take a step back, and let’s review the underlying assumption here.  In doing this, I would like to revisit some of the work of Peter Drucker, one of the gurus of management and leadership.

Drucker often began his discussions with a simple question – what is a business?  To him the usual answer – the purpose of an organisation is to make a profit – “is not only false, but it is totally irrelevant”.

Drucker then describes his basic concept as a starting point: if you want to know what a business is, you have to start with it purpose, which must be found outside the business itself – “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.”

For the purpose of this article I am using Drucker’s definition of a business.

So when the business needs to develop its  leadership, it needs to develop leadership which is focused on creating customers, and in doing this adds value and creates wealth.  The idea of leadership brand, first espoused by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood in the Harvard Business Review (July-August 2007) does this.  Simply Leadership brand is a reputation for developing exceptional managers with a distinct set of talents that are uniquely geared to fulfill customers’ and investors’ expectations.

Developing Your Leadership Brand

There are 5 principles that need to be met to build your leadership brand

  1. Master Strategy – leaders need to have a point of view about the future and be able to position the firm for continued success with customers.
  2. Execute – they must be able to build organizational systems that work, to deliver results, and to make change happen.
  3. Manage Today’s Talent – knowing how to motivate, engage, and communicate with employees.
  4. Develop Future Talent – develop tomorrow’s talent and groom employees for future leadership.
  5. Show Personal Proficiency—demonstrating an ability to learn, act with integrity, exercise social and emotional intelligence, make bold decisions, and engender trust.

What Does This Mean For You?

By adapting the five principles above the business can create a leadership brand that differentiates the organization to employees inside and to customers and investors outside. Successful business is about people working with others people in a trusting relationship – if you can differentiate yourself to these key stakeholders you will gain sustainable competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive world.

The effort requires commitment and engagement from the top and needs to be cascaded throughout the business, and the business needs to design and facilitate programs that foster leadership brands.

As leaders at all levels of the company learn how to master both the core skills of leadership and the essence of the leadership brand, they will increase the value of their organizations.

By focusing on leadership, not just leaders, and by evaluating everything from a customer perspective, firms create the institutional systems and processes that will sustain them year after year.

The question is what are you doing to build your leadership brand and your market reputation?  People buy from people.  Building your leadership brand helps customers to buy from you, rather than you sell to them.

What has worked or not worked for you? Share your knowledge, share the wealth!

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

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