How To Build A Personal Leadership Brand

Leadership, Life

It’s becoming increasingly important for us to be able to stand out as individuals in the marketplace. Whether we work alone as a solopreneur or as an employee in an enormous organization, it’s crucial for us to find ways to differentiate and display our value.

The best way to do this is by building a personal leadership brand. But how do we do this?

There are many ways to perform the steps of creating a personal brand (building websites, designing a social media strategy, etc.) and you can find tons of resources for that online. But there’s something we must do before those things, and it is the most important step of all.

Before we can tell the world who we are, we need to know who we are.

While this seems obvious, it turns out to be much more difficult to do than it is to read.

Fortunately, there are 3 easy-to-understand parts to making this happen, and following them will help you build your personal leadership brand. These three steps are:

  1. Strengths (Know ‘Em)
  2. Space (Carve It Out)
  3. Sensei (Get One)

Now at this point, at the risk of seeming like a big tease, I must confess I already wrote about this in great detail in another post. For the full article on this process visit the LeadChange blog.


P.S. Bonus reading — I provide a free download link to two phenomenal articles about building a great personal brand in this article.


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How To Create A Passionate Organization


Awhile back I wrote that in order to foster a work revolution, our organizational “departments” need to die and something new needs to take their place: something I call Value Groups.

The quick version of this idea is that there are five (and only five) categories in which a person can provide value for the organization/company/tribe they are a part of:

  1. They can build meaningful relationships. [Community Group]
  2. They can build amazing, remarkable stuff. [Creative Group]
  3. They can design an engaging place to work. [Culture Group]
  4. They can design ways to fund the right projects. [Currency Group]
  5. They can coordinate the efforts of the first four groups. [Conductor]

(If you’d want to learn about this in more detail, just mosey on over here.)

There are many interesting things about designing an organization in this way, but one that we haven’t yet talked about is that it leverages the natural passions of people — something that our organizations now are absolutely dreadful at.

We all have certain things that energize us, and what these things are varies from person to person. But what we’ve found through our work at Strengths Doctors is that by using specific assessments, we can get our finger on the pulse of what gives someone energy; i.e., we can easily identify what each person is passionate about.

Now, most organizations have to essentially stop there because their organizational structure is designed around tasks or functions, not passion. They can encourage their people to try to find ways to do activities they enjoy in their current jobs, but as for actually creating spaces to leverage that energy… not so much.

But if we can redesign the structure (at a team or whole-company level), this is exactly the point where it gets really exciting — because we can use that knowledge about passion to plug people into Value Groups.

When we do this, we get a tremendous win-win-win-win (yes, four wins):

  1. The company wins because people who are passionate about what they’re doing on the job do MUCH better work.
  2. The employees win because they get to do things at work that energize them.
  3. The customers and vendors win because they get to interact with people who actually like their jobs.
  4. The society at large wins because the organization is more likely to produce something that actually matters.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, what people are most passionate about lines up exactly with how they can create the most value for the organization. We just need to get them into that place — and now we know how.

So the real question is… what are we waiting for?


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You Are Destined To Color Inside The Lines (So Draw Better Lines)


The things we measure are the things that actually matter.

This might seem to go in the “Duh, obvious!” category at first glance. But this phenomenon goes much deeper than we initially think.

Example: In our companies, we want our customer service folks to treat customers like gold, right? That kind of behavior is how we keep customers coming back and how we encourage them to spend more, etc.

However, this desire for excellent service is usually counteracted by the things we actually measure. Most companies don’t have “wowing customers” as a metric. Instead, we measure our customer service representatives on how little time they can spend with customers. When we do this, no amount of “The Customer Comes First” rhetoric will ever overcome that measurement. It can’t — because it’s not what we’re measuring. No matter how much we insist that’s what we want, it can only ever be lip service; our reps are forever confined to work within the limits of their metrics.

This is how it works in every walk of life, by the way.

In sports, players play to the metrics defined for them. (For more on this, read Andy Stefanovich’s fantastic book Look At More.) Companies adhere to environmental regulations set for them by the federal government. Doctors conform to the best practices as defined by the professional organizations in their field.

We are built (or at least heavily conditioned) to color inside the lines.

Now, if we think with a victim mentality, this reality is quite depressing. But if we believe that we create the future, it’s rather exciting.


As a leader, you’re the one drawing the lines. 

(Lesson: draw your measurements carefully.)


UPDATE 11/15/11: This phenomenon also affects nations and technology. Kind of makes one wonder what’s more important than determining the things we are going to measure, doesn’t it?


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