Today, leadership is both a professional skill and organizational strategy.
Leadership is one of the top five skill sets employers seek in potential job candidates. This is certainly no surprise since strong leadership is a common denominator among high performing organizations. In light of this, leadership development is fast becoming a strategic priority for those organizations desiring to thrive rather than simply survive in the future. Organizations must work to redefine leadership in a way that properly prepares and positions them to not just meet, but exceed the expectations of both internal and external customers. Defining and describing your organization’s unique collective leadership identity is referred to as developing a “leadership brand.”
An organization’s leadership brand is an important business asset.
It tells your customers exactly what they can and should expect from you and your team. Leadership style and leadership brand have different meanings, and should not be used interchangeably; however, both have a significant influence on our approach to “leading.” Let’s take a minute and clarify the difference between leadership style and leadership brand. Leadership style determines “how” one may lead in a particular situation. Leadership styles include visionary, coaching, democratic etc. The most effective leaders flex their leadership style for the best results. An organization’s leadership brand is “what” it is known for. It is the thing that sets it apart from its competitors and makes it distinct.
Unlike leadership styles, which vary (depending on the situation), leadership brand is a constant that should be validated and reinforced in every interaction with a customer.
An organization’s leadership brand is far too important to be left to chance. Unfortunately, one’s leadership brand is based on perceptions of peers, teams or customers, from word of mouth or actual experiences. Whether or not you are aware of it, you are developing your leadership brand. Let’s take a few minutes to consider any recurrent themes, comments, recognition or complaints you have heard from customers. These will provide meaningful insight into your organization’s leadership brand. Stories are often beneficial resources that can offer feedback. If you find that you are not intentionally developing your organization’s leadership brand, it may require immediate attention. Remember, it is being formed consciously or unconsciously. The next step is to determine your desired organizational leadership brand.
The following questions will help you to identify your desired leadership brand:
- What exactly do you want people to say about your organization’s leadership?
- How would you like them to describe your organization’s leadership in the community?
- What words do you want people to use when describing your organization’s leadership team?
- What sets your organization’s leadership apart from its competitors?
Once you’ve successfully identified both your perceived and desired leadership brand, you can begin working to close any undesirable gaps.
An organization’s leadership brand aligns and guides their collective behavior and decision-making. Today, leadership is being recognized as far more than a professional skill set; it’s an organizational strategy and business asset.