Through our consulting engagements with our global clients, Shockingly Different Leadership is seeing an increasingly clear profile of those individuals who have been identified as “leaders of tomorrow” for their organizations or industries.
A significant key to this status attainment? Possessing the ability to establish strong personal leadership brand positioning in the minds of their senior leaders.
Leadership brand positioning is a powerful way to differentiate your personal brand. A strongly differentiated personal brand establishes your credentials as a respected force that others should admire, respect, and follow.
Astute leaders know the importance of solidifying their elite brand positioning by establishing a “differentiating edge” in comparison to their peers. They also are able to articulate both their leadership value in today’s competitive climate as well as their value to tackle any anticipated challenges in the near future.
Desire to be among of the elite in your profession or industry? If you are not implementing the following 5 tactics, it is a warning sign that you may be on your way to quickly becoming irrelevant in the minds of those that matter. Implementing these leadership brand positioning tactics will ensure you will be the one deemed invaluable to lose – the one who is chosen to remain on the lifeboat when the ship of your company/industry hits rough waters.
Leadership Brand Positioning Tactic 1. Possess and evangelize a researched perspective and clear point of view on opportunities for improvement: Celebrating what is already working at your organization is fun, but it does not grab the attention of your leadership, customers or clients. Those who are successful in securing the status as elite leaders in their organizations possess the ability to “peek around corners” and pick up on emerging trends and unmet opportunities which will positively impact business metrics.
The key phrase here is “researched”. Few senior leaders are willing to put their department or company on the line for a high risk initiative. However, if you have done your due diligence to determine the realistic level of calculated risk involved in a promising initiative, your fact-based perspective on the next “big bet” for your organization will provide an invaluable foundation to catapult your brand as a rare, extraordinary leader which must be kept at all costs!
Leadership Brand Positioning Tactic 2. Impact & influence those that matter: No bones about it, your success relies on your ability to influence the influencers and decision-makers in your world. For example, it doesn’t matter if you have invented the best can opener in the world. If your senior management only prioritizes cutting-edge financial software, no version of your can opener will grab and keep their attention.
The lesson here is that your next best contribution doesn’t just lie with your interests. It lies at the win-win intersection between what improvements you want to bring to the world and what your target audience also finds valuable. If a win-win is not established, you will be screened out of consideration for support and may not even know it.
Leadership Brand Positioning Tactic 3. Use your talents in areas hungry for them. Let’s be real. It’s hard to differentiate your abilities in your current functional area. A tax accountant is 90% like all other tax accountants. A dog walker is like 90% of other dog walkers. Finding that point of differentiation to those that value it is key.
Pretend that you are a sales rep in an organization of 150 other sales reps who do the same exact job, selling the exact same products or services. How do you even attempt to stand apart from your peers? You leverage your talents in areas hungry for your expertise. For example, instead of competing with the other 150 reps to impress the same potential client, you could take a day to sit down with the sales coordinators or customer service reps who process your paperwork instead.
Walk them through better understanding of the sales cycle and make suggestions how they can improve their productivity. They not only will be your biggest cheerleaders to your leadership chain, but you can use their help to secure data on improved business metrics due to your direct involvement. What senior leader would not want a 20% improvement on efficiency on their radar?
Leadership Brand Positioning Tactic 4. Keep advice for improvement options wide open: Those who succeed in their profession aren’t only focused on tactics within their scope, but also by ANY opportunity to help their businesses win. Similar to Tactic 4 mentioned above, ultra-achievers use their expertise to help multiple areas of the business.
For example, if you are great in decreasing the cost of business travel, share your top tips with other departments during a lunch & learn. Your thought leadership will go viral before you know it! And the result? An added data point which validates your strong leadership brand positioning and personal reputation in the minds of others.
Leadership Brand Positioning Tactic 5. Stay in your role long enough to siphon the majority of knowledge from a position. Rising leaders on the fast track desire frequent moves. While this may be desirable, even more important is the ability to remain in a new position long enough to gain the critical learnings needed to be successful at the next level of leader.
The length of time needed to stay in a position varies upon the individual, however those who rise through the ranks and stumble along the way because of missing key development, find themselves in more jeopardy than they would have been otherwise if they had taken the time to build up their repartee of new competencies and expertise.
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BONUS INSIGHT- What we’re seeing in the immediate future:
In many of our global clients, we are seeing a willingness to give their top talent a chance to tackle nontraditional roles of greater responsibility, after they have demonstrated successful innovative thinking and associated execution of initiatives which have benefited their organizations.
For example, Kathleen Hogan, an accomplished business leader at Microsoft took over the VP of Human Resources reigns in 2014. Think that doesn’t raise her perspective and value to both Microsoft and the software technology industry? You bet it does!
The most ambitious companies seem to understand that today’s model for engaging ultra-achieving talent greatly differs from the models of 5,10, or even 20 years ago. The question is, how do you and your team become a part of the phenomenon?