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Ask a room full of people ‘What makes a great leader?’ and you’re likely to get 101 different answers. 

Ask the same room who the leaders they admire most are, and you’ll probably hear a wide range of personalities and characteristics described.

Some leaders will be defined as being bold and charismatic. Whilst others quietly confident and measured.  Some super collaborative. Others autocratic and directing. Much in the same way as they may describe their favourite brands - because great leaders are actually like great brands.

  • They are distinctive –  they position themselves well 
  • They stand for something – they articulate their values 
  • They are consistent in what they say, how they say it and how they present themselves – they have brand personality and a brand identity
  • They are consistent in what they say, how they say it and how they present themselves – they have brand personality and a brand identity

As a result, they attract followers. And of course, you can’t be a leader without followers, right?  

Here are four things to help you build your own leadership brand and get results more quickly.  

1.Brand positioning 

Great brands position themselves well. Think BMW. Its tag line ‘the ultimate driving machine’, positions the brand distinctively. It owns this space in the premium range car market. Whether it’s the 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 series, the BMW is known for giving its followers a dynamic driving experience. It uses  this position credibly in its advertising to reinforce its position.

Like any great brand, great leaders own their spot. They too are credible. They know what they stand for and express this through the stories they share. Their angle is easy for others to grasp. Inspiring others to follow and take action.    

As a leader, ask what is distinct about you?  What do you want to be remembered for?  How do you share this with others?

2. Brand values 

Your values are what matter to you most.  They are part of you, part of your story and part of the stories that you tell. They guide your decisions and influence your actions.

Think Martin Luther King’s infamous speech, ‘I have dream’ in which he suggests that equality may be possible in the future. He believed in the power of serving others with humility. He reminded his followers that they didn’t need an advanced degree or lots of wealth to make a difference in the world.

What are your values? How do your values guide your actions? How does your leadership benefit the organisation you work for? And the staff that report to you?

3. Brand personality

When marketers build brands, they talk about expressing the brand’s personality.  Think Apple and ‘Cool’,  IBM and ‘Intelligent’. It’s often the brand’s personality that attracts people to it. Successful brands invest in building their brands. As leaders shouldn’t we do the same?  

Your personality is a critical part of your leadership brand. It shows others what to expect. Some leaders like Richard Branson are adventurous rule breakers. Others like Bill Gates are logical and critical.  Both have very different personalities. Yet both are very successful. What they have in common is that they express their personalities consistently, in the work that they do. 

When building your leadership brand, think about what is unique about your personality.  Are you conservative? Serious? Adventurous? Approachable? Knowledgeable? What is it about your personality that others can expect? Pay attention to how you display your personality to others. Introduce it into your leadership style. And remember, be consistent.

4. Brand identity

This is simply how the brand presents itself. How it styles itself and how it is perceived by others. In other words, how it looks and feels.  

In building your leadership brand think about how you are perceived. What you say and how you say it, your body language and behaviour, how you dress and anything personal that you choose to share about yourself, forms your brand identity.  

What next?

The best way to determine your leadership brand is to allow others to help you. Authenticity is the key.  If you don’t know where to start and you’d like help, enquire about our Building your Brand of Leadership program.

Blog / Leadership and management / Leadership and management / Skills