We all thrive in environments with leaders who inspire us, lead by example, are caring, inclusive and engaging, stimulate our creativity, share their wisdom with us and keep us continually informed, are enthusiastic and support us in seeing how our work makes a difference and getting things done.
Daniel Goleman in “The New Leader” (2002) described these types of environments as “resonant” and identified that leaders in these organisations demonstrated the above capabilities and were able to not only develop more effective and supportive working environments and achieve higher productivity with their workforce but also achieve better financial results.
The term ‘leadership brand’ was coined by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood in 2007. They identified that organisations with a strong and resilient connection between external brand and the customer experience achieve this through their approach to leadership development. Rather than developing merely ‘good’ leaders, they develop leaders with a distinct set of talents that are uniquely geared to fulfilling the expectations of all their stakeholders, both internal and external.
So why is the connection to both internal and external customers and stakeholders so important?
If your values are focused on nurturing and caring for others and the organisation’s values are not – then there is a mismatch – not the best thing for you or the organisation
The main implication here is that developing leadership brand requires a much more individual approach to leadership training. To paraphrase Ulrich and Smallwood, generic training and development creates generic leaders. Just as, say, customer experience varies widely from one company to the next, depending on a whole range of factors, so too do leadership development requirements.
The same applies on an individual basis. In the context of our work, each individual we work with has their own Enneagram type, and their own level of emotional health. Understanding these, and working with them, can help a leader better understand the gifts they bring to their role, and any gap between these and the broader leadership brand required of the organisation.
When we work with leaders around their brand, we explore nine characteristics of a fully developed leadership brand, each associated with a different Enneagram type. This leads to a very personal perspective and, importantly, it helps identify and prioritise areas of development focus which are likely to make the biggest difference in the short to medium term.
The concept of leadership brand is becoming more important as the need for authenticity grows. Customers want to deal with businesses which meet the expectations of their branding. Potential employees are increasingly looking to work for leaders who they ‘want to work with’, not just organisations with a colourful external image – leaders who they can respect and admire as opposed to those who can ‘talk the talk’.