Thursday, September 13, 2012

Building Your Leadership Brand

Guest post by regular Great Leadership contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:

During the course of my work with leaders, I find that so many of them get hung up on the “should and shouldn’ts” of leadership by comparing themselves with other leaders. Leaders, who feel the need to compare themselves with leaders held up in public as great business leaders, such as Jack Welch or Sam Walton, are doing themselves a disservice.

We are all individuals with unique strengths and experiences that make it impossible to lead exactly like someone else. We need to have our own leadership brand that is true to our uniqueness.

When defining your leadership brand, you first need to define what leadership is to you. There are as many definitions of leadership as there are leaders. The most important thing for you as a leader is to find your own definition of leadership which:

1. Is genuine and true to you

2. Inspires those around you to perform their very best

3. Delivers the results you have set out to achieve

Once you understand yourself as a leader, your leadership brand, then you can determine whether you want to make changes as a leader and develop a plan to get there.

Below are questions, designed around the three points above, to self reflect and bring clarity to you as a leader. These questions will take some time to answer and require you to be singly focused, i.e. ALONE, to answer the questions true to you as a leader.

1. What are the top three behaviors great leaders demonstrate on a consistent basis? And, how do you rate?

2. What are the top three mistakes leaders make? How often do you make these mistakes?

3. How do you define your leadership style?

4. How do you measure the effectiveness of your leadership style?

5. What commitments have you made to improve your effectiveness as a leader?

6. Who is holding you accountable?

7. Of these commitments, which ones are new that will stretch you as a leader?

8. How do your values influence your as a leader?

9. What is your vision for you organization?

10. How do you insure your team is aligned to your vision?

Once you have answered the ten questions, then the answers to the following questions can be answered:

• Who are you as a leader?

• How committed are you to becoming a better leader?

• What are your goals for development and improvement?

If you have a high degree of commitment and have defined your goals as a leader, then the next questions to ask yourself are:

1. What is my plan to obtain the development and improvement goals I have set for myself? Then, create a specific timeline with specific benefits to you and those you lead, and put your plan into action.

2. What development options are available to me both within my company or externally? Be creative. Don’t forget the opportunities that special projects and job rotations can provide for your development as a leader.

Finally remember to be true to whom you are when you are implementing your development plan. Find what feels natural and comfortable to you when implementing changes. If you don’t, those around you will not view the changes as genuine and sincere and you risk losing your credibility as a leader.

Beth Armknecht Miller, of Atlanta, Georgia, is Founder and President of Executive Velocity, a leadership development advisory firm accelerating the leadership success of CEOs and business leaders. She is also a Vistage Chair and Executive Coach. She is certified in Myers Briggs and Hogan leadership assessment tools and is a Certified Managerial Coach by Kennesaw State University. Visit or or follow her on twitter at SrExecAdvisor.


David Marquet said...

Beth, nice article.
Falseness is a killer when it comes to credibility. Your people will see through that in a minute so I really like your admonition to first, understand who you are and be true to it.
Another important piece is self-development. I can say from my own experience I'm sure glad I'm not the same "leader" I was 20 years ago.

Beth Miller said...

Thanks David. I think many leaders fail to recognize how critical developing themselves is to their success as well as those on their team. If they aren't developing themselves how can the people around them take development seriously?

Ashok Vaishnav said...

The article’s emphasis - “define what leadership is to you” - requires being underlined, so that the real intent of such an excellent advice is hardwired among the practising managers.
Since my response in the form a comment may be too long, I have reblogged the article with my own commentary @
In the ultimate analysis, the author, Beth Armknecht Miller, rightly cautions that the ‘Leadership’ must remain rooted to the inherently “natural” grain. The moment it ‘sounds’ [or ‘appears’] cosmetic, it indeed “loses its credibility”. This is where it may tend become a ‘practice’ rather than a ‘spirit”.

Beth Miller said...

Ashok, you point out something that underlies the process which is the question " what is your life's purpose and does it align with what leadership is to you?" I look forward to reading your additional commentary.

Mads Singers said...

Great list, I would add in communication as well though ;)
Communication is the most frequent thing leaders do and it never makes in into these kind of lists :(

Kind Regards

Beth Armknecht Miller said...

Mads, Thanks for the reminder. Communication is very critical to your leadership brand. Moving the theme of being genuine, communication must be genuine as well. Speaking from the heart and being transparent would be the two components I would recommend a leader focus on when communicating.