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How Your Personal Brand Drives Leadership Success

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2020 has been a strange year. Suddenly, our daily lives turned upside down; we became teachers, expert mask wearers, and should have bought stock in companies that make hand sanitizer. What also emerged is who can lead during a crisis and selected to be on the crisis team. Sometimes it is not whom we thought it would be. How did they get picked? What makes them unique? It is their leadership brand. As business and society evolve at a breakneck pace, our personal leadership brand is even more critical than ever before.

What is your personal leadership brand?

Let us start by defining what a brand is. A brand is the feeling you get when you interact with it. It is what you think about it. It is a personal experience that determines whether you use their products and services again. Most people hear the word brand and may think of Apple, Nike, Disney, or other famous brands, recognize the logos, and feel an emotion. The same thing happens with your personal brand. We may not have our own logos, but people do connect words and feelings with our name.

In a nutshell, a personal leadership brand is what people think of you when they hear your name.  Harvard Business Review defines it as "… something that conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader. It communicates the value you have to offer." [i]   

Own Your Leadership Brand

We want the reputation as a hard worker, someone who does their work and can lead a team as well as being loyal to the organization's success. We want people to recognize our efforts. However, to be identified as a leader, we know that we need to be seen and have an elevator script to share with someone when they ask what we do. Is that enough to be selected to lead a project or be part of the project team? Does it get you the promotion? Does it help you lead during a crisis? Maybe or maybe not.

Luckily, we can change the message and the perception of our leadership brand as our goals change. It takes hard work, but it is achievable and something that needs to be organic. It cannot stray too far from who you are as a person. For example, you may dislike social media and have no clue what Snap Chat is and how it works, so leading a digital advertising project would not suit you. You may love numbers and data, then leading a project related to data analytics would work for you. Your task is to make sure people connect your name to the leadership role that you want.

How to Re-Brand Yourself

With any brand exercise, it takes work and thought. The first step is to determine the goal and the story you want to tell. Next, produce a list of attributes about what the brand should stand for and what people should think and feel when they hear it. For a personal brand, some qualities could be collaborative, decisive, good with numbers, a great writer, loves social media, organized, team player, problem solver, excellent project management skills. Think about what leadership skills you want people to see - confident, emotionally stable, forward-thinking, tactical, good communicator, big picture thinker, integrity, thought leader are just a few to consider. 

From here, you develop your personal brand statement. When developing it, think about what you want to you to achieve in the next year. Norm Smallwood recommends creating a brand statement like this "I want to be known for being <insert a personal attribute> so that I can deliver < desired results>." For example, it may be - I want to be known for

being a strategic thinker so that I can deliver marketing campaigns that drive growth in new markets.

He further recommends testing this statement with questions such as: Does this stand for who I am and what I can do? Does this brand statement represent value in the organization? Can I live this brand?"

Personal Leadership Brand and Working Remotely

Working remotely is new for many of us. Some of us have worked for bosses who are traveling all the time and send emails and text messages at odd hours. We learned to adjust, show our work and our value.

However, this may be a new concept for many and puts our leadership brand to the test. The strategies for success are the same. The main difference is that we are navigating in the dark. We do not know what we are missing or what is going on once we hang up the zoom call; the hallway meetings and water cooler chatter are not happening.

If you have a strong personal leadership brand, it is easy to make the transition. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal recommends the following to remain visible and relevant: 

  • Frequent check-in with your boss     
  • Make sure you continue to align with the business

objectives and goals of the organization   

  • Stay in touch with your teammates via chat, email,

and the phone    

  • Speak up during meetings and make sure you receive

the meeting invites     

  • Express your goals and make sure people know you are available
  • [ii]  

Does your personal leadership brand translate to remote work and align with your next step on the career ladder? If it does not, readjust and make sure it does.

While the business world is on a roller coaster right now, it is up to you to own and define your personal brand and leadership style. If you do not own it, who will?


  [i] "Define Your Personal Leadership Brand in Five Steps." Norm Smallwood, Harvard Business Review, March 29, 2010.

[ii] "While Working Remotely, Here's How to

Get Noticed and Promoted." Rachel Feintzeig, Wall Street Journal,

August 23, 2020.

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Jennifer Roper
Maine State Credit Union
Director of Marketing and Communications

Jennifer Roper is a passionate marketer who loves to bring brands to life. She is currently the director of Marketing and Communications at Maine State Credit Union.



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