As leaders (or future leaders) in our companies, communities and beyond, we need to build great teams, set high standards and look for ways to improve. But we also need to build our own leadership brand – the reasons that people see us as leaders in the first place. And continue to look to us for advice, mentorship and direction. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way to build a successful leadership brand.
Do you shoot from the hip or are you a deliberator who gathers information first? Someone who directs from experience and instinct or someone who seeks collaboration before making decisions? Somewhere in between? When you know your own leadership style, you can evaluate how well it is working with your people, and then adapt it to fit the circumstances. Being flexible and open to meeting people where they are is your job as the leader.
Leaders must possess strong self-awareness. That is, they understand their strengths, weaknesses and where they can make an impact. Evaluate your core expertise, experience and credibility. Where are you ahead of the competition in your industry or organization? Where do you fall behind and could use some study or improvement? You don’t have to be all things to all people, but you should recognize where you shine and where you need polish.
Take a look at the larger business world for role models, mentors and coaches of your own. Consider joining a peer group network to gain a larger perspective on what makes a leader successful in different organizations. Then use what you’ve learned to improve your own leadership abilities within your own company.
Now is the time to tell your unique story as a leader. Steve Jobs positioned himself as an innovator in technology. Warren Buffet relies on his image as a down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is person to run one of the most successful companies in the world. People listened and still listen to them. Once you’ve found your unique story, keep it simple and share your point of view and insights from that position.
Start with your employees and customers – tell them the story of what makes you unique as a leader. Use social media, newsletters, blogging and letters to the editor to explore ways of getting the word out. Find hot button issues and share your perspective, always staying consistent with your message. And customize the story for each channel you’re using to tell your story. People follow leaders because they want to be inspired and motivated. So inspire and motivate them with your story.
Part of being a leader is acting like one. That means mentoring people in your organization, and contributing to the success of your industry and community. Serve on committees and boards. Sponsor business and non-profit group activities. Spend time nurturing the next generation of leaders, wherever you find them.
Leaders come in all shapes, styles, and forms. Stop to think about some of the leaders that have inspired you or even some that have made you mad. The qualities of good leadership skills will become apparent, as will those that you find ineffective (and thus don’t want to model). Use these tips to build your own leadership brand, and you’ll be successful in demonstrating to others that you’re a leader worth following. Just sayin’.
about the author
Sharon Dillard is the award-winning CEO of Get A Grip Inc., a national franchise kitchen and bathroom resurfacing company based in Albuquerque. For more information, call, click or visit:
Showroom: 11840 Cochiti Road SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87123
Website: ‘Get A Grip’ http://www.getagripabq.com/