April 27, 2014

Creating your own authentic leadership brand

By Brad Solomon |

authentic leadership

Guest blog by Brad Solomon  for WeCommendProviders we’re all shouting about

The Leadership landscape has changed. Whether you currently sit in a Leadership position or aspire to become a leader of the future a deeper awareness of how the landscape has changed and the impact this has on current Leadership trends is critical to our success. Much has been said and written about Leadership yet research has shown that charismatic Leadership, people either having the gift of Leadership or not, is not what counts. Effective Leadership, at any level of the organisation, is about ordinary people getting extraordinary results. Leadership is an essential quality in a Manager. It is how you get your team fired up and willing to follow your plan. Leadership in the 21st century is a skill that can be learnt like any other skill. It is a skill that can be improved with practice.

Leadership is not magic. It is not a gift that some people have and others do not. It is not standing back and telling others what to do. It is not belittling or demeaning others who don’t do what you tell them to do. The art of Leadership is to find the balance between inspiring others with our vision and ensuring tangible goals are both measured and met. We must inspire others to share our vision. Essentially, the skill of the effective Leader is to determine what is important to say, and what is important to demonstrate through actions, so that we actively model behaviours that support the realisation of our vision.

Leadership styles and theories abound showing us how to flex our approach in specific situations and whether you concur with Blanchards Situational Leadership Model, Tannenbaum and Schmidts Leadership Continuum, Adairs Task Focused Leadership or whether you are more engaged with the writings of Kouzes and Posner and their Leadership Challenge, since the turn of the century, Leadership has increasingly become more about behaviour than anything else. With Daniel Goleman showing us at the end of the 90’s that nearly 70% of Leadership competencies fall within the Emotional Intelligence spectrum, we are now forced to accept that without a high degree of Emotional Intelligence, Leadership Models and Theories count for nothing.

And without that heightened sense of emotional awareness, and without our own authentic leadership brand, our values and our behaviours and all our good intentions will slip into the background as we get drawn into the daily grind and detail of our jobs and the tasks of our team members.

A leader needs a clear vision and must be able to think equally tactically and strategically.

A leader also:

  • Can think both long term and short term whilst seeing the big picture
  • Is proactive yet does not feel the need to have all the answers
  • Actively seeks feedback whilst consistently modelling a set of values and behaviours
  • Exhibits a high emotional intelligence and can raise the Emotional Intelligence in those around them.

But most importantly, in this new Emotionally Intelligent Age, the Leader requires their own Authentic Leadership Brand. When working with Business Leaders on their Presence and their Leadership Brand, I have always felt it is important to start by unlocking their Leadership Purpose. But what is Leadership Purpose?

Top tip #1 – Becoming a Leader with Purpose

In order to get started with our authentic brand we must understand and then communicate our Core Purpose as a Leader. Consider the following four questions to help you get started:

  • What are my core values?
  • What are my core talents?
  • What is the difference I want to make?
  • What are the talents that distinguish me from others?

Brad's blog diagram

Core purpose is the high performance intersection where our talents and our values come together. It is the value creating, catalytic moment when our gifts make a difference. When we split off our values from our talents, or vice versa, we compromise purpose and enduring performance. We must consider what our Core Leadership Purpose is and what the Core Team purpose is in order to drive high performing teams and be a Values led Leader. In doing this, we create a vision that inspires achievement in others, a set of values to live and work by which makes decision making simple and helps to focus our minds and our teams on a consistent and methodical approach to leading and executing plans. Showing a visible and enhanced level of Emotional Intelligence will drive our success twice as much as knowing all the theory in the plethora of Leadership Books found on shelves in bookstores around the world.

Leader roles, at all levels have become more complex. Leaders have to work across functional boundaries, compete for resources, manage a diverse workforce, integrate work activities with a strategic plan, and be able to frequently implement new business models. Customer demands are higher and non- traditional competition is popping up everywhere. Finding and creating your own authentic Leadership brand will help you drive performance in a simple and motivational way, as well as giving you the ability to inspire and enable those around you. Think of your Core Purpose as if it were a Theme Tune that played whenever you communicate (verbally or non verbally)

Top tip #2 – The 5C’s to creating your Leadership Brand

Clear vision and path – Your Brand is defined by your Vision. A Transformational Leader possesses clear vision and the way of achieving the vision. Once a plan is clear then success is unstoppable which boosts confidence.

Commitment – The one who commits himself completely will achieve the goal soon.  Both self-confidence & followers’ confidence grows when a leader involves himself fully in the activities that leads to achieve goals. You must be able to live and breathe you’re brand every day in your actions at work.

Courage – Hurdles & struggles are common in achieving success even for an easy activity. Staying focused and keeping hope in Leadership is a must. A Transformational Leader should be courageous and communicate to followers to be brave during difficult times. A Brand can take time to grow and stick with the consumers. We must be patient and work consistently even through difficult times.

Consistent – Having coherency between speech and action is required for all effective Leaders. Consistency in the approach to goal execution will keep cohesive teams in place that helps transforming each other to the next level a great deal easier. Our Leadership Brand must be consistently represented throughout our organisation and eco system.

Celebration – Even the smallest achievement needs to get the attention of all – so celebrate! This gives the entire group a feeling of accomplishment that makes them confident. Everyone works in a more committed & motivated way following celebrations. Followers’ confidence can be raised with individualised considerations and recognition of their accomplishments as well.

Once you have your purpose, your values, your distinguishing qualities and are clear about the direction you wish to take, then your role as the Leader is to live your brand, breathe it every day. Play your theme tune all the time so that people really know and understand what you want and what you give. When you know what you stand for and know what you are trying to achieve, living your authentic Leadership brand becomes a way of living and leading.

Top tip #3 – Translating Leadership Theory into real Behaviours

To truly live your brand you must act as a Transformational Leader, enabling your teams, challenging them, inspiring them and encouraging them, but most importantly you must model for them how you want them to be. Think about your daily interaction with the people who you lead. Generally speaking, determine the actual behaviours that define that interaction.

Using the list of behaviours below, determine the amount of time (in percentages) that you generally spend on each behaviour. Then in the second column, determine what you feel would be ideal distribution of time (in percentages).

Brads Chart

Finally, in order to know that you are living your authentic leadership and transformational brand you should be spending your energies making your interactions reflect the second column not the first.

In Summary

Let your team know your brand and your theme tune

Let them know your purpose and theirs

Let them know and see your values…………and then Lead