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In this article, we define the personal brand leadership style and explore what leaders can gain from embracing and developing it.
ersonal brand leadership is the new standard for leaders who want to be authentic, connect with their clients/constituents and differentiate themselves from the competition. Everyone is talking about personal branding — and with good reason. Personal branding has emerged, not only to be a trending topic but to be one of the quickest routes to gaining mindshare and customer/client buy-in.
Personal brand leadership pushes the envelope further to forge personal brand as an actual leadership style (i.e., leading teams through the personal brand leadership style).
Personal brand leadership begins with a story. We call it the origin brand story. Between the ages of 0-7, 7-14 and from 14-21, core experiences were formed. From these experiences, lessons and wisdom were drawn, and operating principles were formulated. These operating principles became guidelines, or what the scholarly body refers to as “worldview.” This worldview is our perspective and how we see the world, and we deal with the world based on our MVPs or morals, values and principles. In order to do this, you must go back into your past and detail your origin brand story. It is not easy for a lot of people, and it works better when someone facilitates or coaches you through that process as it can be painful and challenging — and many get stuck.
However, once someone has gathered that data central to who they are and how and why they conduct themselves as they do, the job becomes to relate this data to the world. You can see the power in this as you think of those you formed strong bonds with and leadership figures who changed the world or had a strong positive and enduring impact. They always told their story. When you tell your story, you open yourself up to the world, which takes courage. You lay yourself bare, to be judged and held accountable, and you become vulnerable.
You tell of your mistakes and shortcomings, regrets, losses, etc. In other words, you become human. Humans want to do business with humans. Humans want to be in relationships with humans. That’s just how the world works. So, the more human and the more imperfect you make yourself, the more relatable you become and the more people begin to respond to you. They have these epiphanies, me-too and ah-hah moments as you tell your story, and when you don’t stay or dwell in your mistakes but make the appropriate adjustments and overcome challenges, they see themselves as being able to overcome challenges, too — and until they do, they get to live vicariously through your ability to overcome their mistakes.
Thus, they become inspired, motivated and inclined to grow, develop and progress. This is how the world becomes a better place and why personal brand leadership is a futuristic form of leadership looking forward and not back into the past, except as a way to realize strengths to power us up for the next quantum leap.
Personal brand leadership works for anyone who is tired of faking it and truly interested in making it. It works for anyone trying to live an authentic, genuine life and be of authentic and genuine value to their clients and shareholders; be they employees, family members and/or investors. Personal brand leadership is being able to be comfortable in your skin and never having to remember your lines because you live unscripted, reliant upon the lessons you have learned, and the (what we call 3 Es) education, experience and expertise gained delivers up to you next.
This is also relatable to living in flow, where you tap into the eternal reservoir of trust and belief in one’s self. When you do that, anxiety declines, and appreciation, gratitude and good feelings take over — and instinct abounds. Depression may subside because you’re no longer trying to be what you’re not and you’re comfortable not trying to be all things for all people.
With the advent of all things artificial and automated in the name of advance and further removing the human element from business, communications and relationships, it is absolutely imperative and more desirable that a person be authentic. How many times have you gotten a phone call and instead of it being a person, it was some “bot” on the other end? How many times have you received an email that you knew was artificially created? People are starving for the human touch and authentic expression, especially in business, and the knowledge is all out here.
I tell my clients all the time: Knowledge is easily accessible. Humanity, on the other hand, not so much. In the job market, once you pass a certain pay grade, the tech skills no longer differentiate. Everyone has them. Everyone has the degrees, the letters, the social group memberships, etc.
So, what’s missing, and how can you differentiate yourself? The only differentiators now are behavioral, social, interactive and experience. Customer experience and end-user experience are the things that most business owners erroneously seek to automate, ever searching for the key to sustainable scalability. However, the last thing you want to do is scale to fail, and that happens when you remove yourself from the equation, try to grow too fast, automate and outsource everything, and your business loses its personal touch.
In summary, the future is personal. There will always be those who want less experience — those who desire to outsource and de-personalize everything, but what this does for the people who have established strong personal brand leadership is it positions them as the OVO, or the only viable option. The only viable option for people who want to remain human in every growing artificial simulation of the new world. This is as true in business as in every other sector.
The CEO who can be transparent and vulnerable and interweave their morals, values, vision and principles into the underlying fabric of the organization, products, services, employee’s mindsets and marketing campaigns will yield an undeniable competitive advantage over the ChatGPT-generated slogans and computer-generated social media posts, blogs, email and customer service templates. We are coming to the precipice of a fork in the road where we will be forced to choose … choose wisely … choose personal brand leadership.