5 Steps for Developing or Refreshing Your Personal Leadership Brand

May 25, 2023 Randy Conley

Have you ever considered your personal leadership brand?

Whether you realize it or not, you have a brand image as a leader. And if you don’t take charge of it, someone else will.

Your brand image is not only how people perceive you (your reputation), but also what differentiates you from everyone else in your company. When your direct reports and colleagues think of you, what comes to their minds? If you can’t answer that question, you have a problem—a brand image problem.

Tom Peters, the guru of personal branding, says “If you are going to be a brand, you’ve got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value, what you’re proud of, and most important, what you can shamelessly take credit for.” 

Now, I’m not into bragging brazenly about personal accomplishments. I believe the value of one’s contributions speaks for itself. But I also think it’s important, and possible, to share successes tactfully and appropriately.

Your personal leadership brand goes beyond your title or job description. What is it about your approach as a leader that makes you memorable, distinct, or unique? What’s the buzz on you? What impact on others are you most proud of? How have you added value to your people and your organization? These are all elements that make up your brand.

If you do have an explicit leadership brand you’ve worked to develop, is it time to give it a refresh? The world of work is a very different place than it was just a few years ago and your brand message may be missing the mark.

If you’re not quite sure what your personal leadership brand is or how to go about creating it, here are five steps to get you started.

  1. Identify your core values. Your values guide your beliefs and actions. A brand is a trusted promise that requires clarity about what motivates you from the core of your being. Consider popular brands like Apple or Nike. Apple’s brand conveys the values of being creative, passionate, and visionary. Nike’s brand of Just Do It reflects the values of excellence and dedication. What values reflect the way you show up as a leader? Mine are trust, authenticity, respect, and generosity.
  2. Identify your strengths/personal attributes. A personal leadership brand combines what you value with what you do well. What are you really good at? What unique personal attributes do you bring to the table? Maybe it’s courage, decisiveness, enthusiasm, patience, perseverance, trustworthiness, or something else. There are a number of surveys you can take to help you identify your character strengths and attributes.
  3. Assess your current brand image. One of the best ways to understand your current brand is to ask people you work with to describe your personal brand image. In addition to asking others, you can use the following sentence starters to help you analyze your leadership brand:
  • My direct reports would describe me as…
  • Three leadership skills I’m really good at are…
  • Something about myself I feel proud of is…
  • Some ways I’ve positively impacted others are…
  1. Determine the needs of your target audience. Our work experience has undergone a major transformation in the last few years. People want to work in organizations that not only offer remote/hybrid work arrangements but also place a priority on employees’ personal well-being and development. Organizations are increasingly more diverse and global, which requires leaders to have advanced skills in emotional intelligence, cultural sensitivity, empathy, building trust, and leading in a matrix.
  1. Serve others. Some brands are flashes in the pan while others endure for long periods of time. Decades of research and experience (see herehere, and here) have shown servant leadership as the way to achieve lasting success that brings out the best in people and organizations. Because servant leadership is focused on serving others, it’s uniquely positioned to meet today’s challenges.

Ready to learn more about developing or refreshing your personal leadership brand?

Marketers will tell you that all brands need a refresh from time to time. It gives you a chance to reexamine what’s important to you and how you will express it.  If you’re thinking you could use a refresher, consider joining Ann Rollins and me for The Power of Leading with Heart webinar on June 2 at 7:00 a.m. PDT.

In this Learning Design Overview, we’ll introduce you to the mindsets and skillsets of trusted servant leaders, featuring key concepts from Blanchard’s Building Trust and Servant Leadership Essentials curriculum. We’ll also show you how to create a learning journey that incorporates this content so that you can develop leaders who lead with heart.

Register for The Power of Leading with Heart webinar here.

About the Author

Randy Conley

Randy Conley is the Vice President & Trust Practice Leader for Blanchard®. He is coauthor of Blanchard’s Building Trust training program and works with organizations around the globe, helping them build trust in the workplace. In 2022, Randy and Ken Blanchard coauthored Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, and most recently, Simple Truths of Leadership Playbook: A 52-Week Game Plan for Becoming a Trusted Servant Leader.

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