Defining Your Personal Leadership Brand

Your personal leadership brand conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader but is it supporting you in your current role? In a recent Harvard Business Review blog, Norm Smallwood highlights the importance of having the right personal leadership brand to achieve maximum value. In his experience, an appropriately aligned personal leadership brand can help you focus your efforts on what you want to be known for rather than being caught up in non value-adding activities. In conjunction with David Ulrich, he outlines five steps for defining your personal leadership brand:

  1. Identify the results you want to achieve in the next 12 months
  2. Identify what you wish to be known for
  3. Define your identity
  4. Construct and test your brand statement
  5. Make your brand identity real

Interestingly, Smallwood and Ulrich note that leaders with self-awareness and drive to evolve their personal leadership brands are more likely to be successful over the long term and enjoy their journey as a leader.

So how can we bring these insights into leadership development practice?

In developing other leaders, we can:

  • Encourage self-reflection and definition of an individuals personal leadership brand
  • Provide ongoing feedback about the alignment of an individuals leadership behaviours with their personal leadership brand
  • Develop frameworks and processes to support personal leadership brands within the context of the organisations wider leadership brand and culture

For ourselves as leaders, we can:

  • Regularly review our personal leadership brand to ensure it supports our current or future role
  • Understand our organisations leadership brand and identify and mitigate any areas of dissonance between it and our personal leadership brand
  • Put in place mechanisms (i.e. regular feedback) to ensure our brand sticks
  • Share our brand with colleagues to engender their support as we hold ourselves accountable for delivering on it 


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