Building Your Personal Leadership Brand is an Act of Service

Why Building Your Personal Leadership Brand is Actually an Act of Service

Building your personal leadership brand is an incredible opportunity that can open so many doors and gather support from others. While many emerging leaders attempt to build theirs, most of them unfortunately don’t succeed. Why? Because they’re fixated on being seen rather than genuinely bringing something valuable to the table.

Why you should tap into people’s emotions for your brand strategy

Leadership often falls into two categories: those focused solely on organisational goals and those centred on people. The former sometimes overlooks the unique contributions of each person within the organisation, while the latter prioritises employee well-being and understands that a content workforce propels organisational success.

If you want to become a leader who people truly want to stand behind and create a workplace where work is more than just a paycheck, you need to make sure every person on your team feels respected, valued, and, above all, treated as individuals and not just a number.

Carlos Llano was one of the first authors to explore organisations through a people-centric lens, seeing them as a “community of people”. In this perspective, the core purpose of a company revolves around nurturing the common good and individual development of its members, rather than solely focusing on generating economic value. Ultimately, companies – and their leaders – should prioritise serving everyone in their team in a way that allows each person to pursue their own fulfilment and happiness.

The point I want to drive home is that (most) people will only care about you when they see that you care about them. The way you leave others feeling can greatly impact how they perceive you and can sway their decisions in favour of or against you. That’s why it’s so important to create the right emotional connection as part of your personal leadership brand strategy.

How does your personal leadership brand make people feel?

People care more about how you make them feel than about you. Being focused on ourselves is human nature. People will always look for the ways in which you can add value to their lives before they invest their interest in you. That’s why a strong personal leadership brand, at its core, is actually an act of service. You need to evoke the right emotions if you want to influence people.

Think about the people around you and how they make you feel. For example, maybe you have a mentor who is always encouraging, guiding, and offering you constructive feedback. Their support most likely makes you feel empowered, confident, and ready to take on new challenges. Or maybe you have a colleague who just radiates positivity and energy. Their enthusiasm is probably so infectious that they make you feel motivated and excited about work, even during those times when it feels impossible to get through the day. 

Then again, maybe you have a team member whose dis-organisation and lack of reliability drive you up the wall. Their behaviour may make you feel anxious or overwhelmed when you have to depend on their input for critical tasks.

With this in mind, take a moment to think about how you affect the people you work with. Do you have an idea of how you make them feel? If the impression you leave is mostly positive and aligns with the reputation you aspire to have, keep doing what you’re doing. Keep it impactful and let it be the foundation of your personal leadership brand. If you realise your effect on others isn’t predominantly positive, muster the courage to change it. This should form part of your brand strategy.

To begin, I suggest making a list of all the feelings you want to evoke in people. You most likely want people to feel confident. You want them to feel that they can trust you. You want them to feel motivated so that they perform better. Each of these emotions that you list contributes to the overall perception people have of your leadership style, so they need to be specific to you. Don’t force anything.

You need to remind yourself that the emotions you want to tap into need to genuinely resonate with who you are. Authenticity is what breeds consistency. When it’s real, it’s something you can naturally uphold over time. And ultimately, you want to create sincere connections with people.

Once you’ve made your list, the next step is figuring out how to create experiences that stimulate these feelings in those around you. For instance, to foster confidence might mean you need to provide regular constructive feedback and show recognition when someone has done their job exceptionally well. To instil trust, transparency should be at the top of your priority list, and you’ll need to follow through on commitments consistently.

Motivation could stem from creating an environment where each individual feels encouraged to grow and become the best version of themselves. One way to do this is to give one of your team members an unexpected project to lead that’s just outside their usual scope, something you genuinely believe they can handle. This is a great way to make a person feel motivated because it lets them know that you trust and actually have faith in their abilities.

How do you associate what people care about with your personal leadership brand?

This starts with a deep understanding of your core values. For instance, do fairness, inclusivity, and fostering a sense of belonging rank high among your values? And how do these values translate into the policies you set and the way you lead? Keep in mind that your team might not have a direct line to your thoughts, but they gauge your values through your actions.

Your personal leadership brand should create an environment where your team feels valued, included, and inspired to support you. You need to showcase these values through tangible actions and decisions and demonstrate your commitment to what truly matters to both you and your team.

Final thoughts

The truth is, in our busy lives, it’s easy to miss things that aren’t front and centre. Building your personal leadership brand doesn’t necessarily mean you have to completely change your leadership style; you just need to keep in mind that it is built on the emotions you evoke in others. 

Think about how you want others to feel when they interact with you, and then, try to come up with ways to create experiences that make them feel that way. This is how you create a meaningful impact.

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