An Integrated Approach to Leadership Development: The Leadership Brand

By letitiavandermerwe, 26 August, 2016

Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room - Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon

Leadership brand:

  • Is something that both employees and external stakeholders perceive;
  • It is what we become known for as individuals and as a company;  and
  • Is important from a business perspective, because it drives employee engagement and commitment, which drives customer delight, which drives positive business results.

In marketing, developing product brand means that the product can be differentiated from other products of the same type. To improve product brand, researchers increase product efficacy while marketers work on advertising. When product efficacy and advertising are both successful, product brand is attained and the product typically achieves a price premium of about 30 present. 

Leadership branding refers to the same kind of process. To improve leadership brand, leaders must increase their efficacy of attaining results while senior leaders "advertise" these results to shareholders and investors. Leadership in a company is branded when the unique competencies and specific business results are integrated for all leaders within an organisation. Over a period of years, an organisation may create leaders who are branded, or distinct from leaders in other organisations. Leaders who develop only common attributes of leadership do not establish leadership brand. What's missing is the notion that these attributes need to be ones that clearly link to business results.

Because business results are company-specific, leadership brand is always unique to a specific firm. When the attributes the leaders demonstrate are linked to desired results, distinctive branding follows. Leadership brand advances beyond generic competencies.

This bring us to an interesting notion - traditionally leadership development tends to focus on the individual leader. When you work from a brand perspective you start to think developing the leadership collective or as we call it - the leadership community.

Once we have a sufficiently clear sense of what the  leadership brand should be, a next set of questions arise, such as:

  1. What leadership style will best support our desired leadership brand?
  2. What specific set of values (behaviours) will best support our desired leadership brand? Which of these are truly non-negotiable?
  3. What specific leadership skills (competencies) are required to ensure that we live our leadership brand consistently?
  4. Can we align the behaviours of leaders at different levels of the organisation, so that the brand is lived across all levels in a consistent manner?

In the next blog we will look at selecting leadership talent.



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