I met Hannah in the women’s change rooms one morning during her first couple of weeks at the club. She was the new General Manager of the yacht club at which I’m a member. I can be pretty talkative after a salt water swim, while Hannah seemed intent on keeping to herself.
As the next few weeks passed I’d see Hannah quite regularly, we continued to exchange polite hellos and then went about our days.
Months went by and I began to notice something very interesting. Consistent improvements were being made around the club, things that although small, were making a big difference to everyone’s experience.
What was much more interesting to me though, was what people were saying about the changes and about Hannah.
Many mornings during the after-swim coffee, members would be speaking about our new GM in inspired delight. The things that were finally getting done, how Hannah would be seen taking orders in the restaurant and helping serve. Meeting with members casually to hear what was important to them. Attending committee meetings and putting her hand up to see things through. Little by little this woman was silently, but very loudly, communicating her values, her intent and her integrity.
Whether intentionally or not (and without social media fan fare, premature announcement or expectation of recognition, approval or applause) this leader was creating her brand.
“Whether intentional or unintentional,
all leaders have a leadership brand.” Forbes
As leaders, our brand introduces us before we show up. It’s the thoughts and feelings people connect with our name when they think of us, or speak our name. It’s how they relate and how much they trust us, and whether they even want to.
Harvard Business Review asks…”You probably already have a personal leadership brand. But do you have the right one?”
Providing 5 key questions to help define your leadership brand on purpose, with my favourite question being “What do you want to be known for?”
Being known for something is more a reflection of our state of being than it is the things we do. If we are doing all the right things, but being resentful or righteous, disrespectful or impatient while we’re doing them, who we’re being will communicate much louder than the fact the job gets done.
Consider the simple distinction:
– Who we BE (our thoughts, feelings and emotions), drives
– What we DO (our words and actions) which then produces
– What we HAVE (our things).
We can choose consciously our state of being (for example our mindset and attitude, whether we feel compassionate or judgemental towards another, if we offer or withhold trust), which means we get to choose how we are known as leaders.
In workshops I love to challenge leaders, managers and team members about being the bigger person. This, to me, speaks to the heart of creating a leadership brand on purpose.
Being the bigger person is not about doing something right or good for the sake of gaining credit. Being the bigger person is about choosing with intent who you want to be and what you want to be known for…
– courage or excuses
– congruence or inauthenticity
– curiosity or judgement
– trustworthiness or doubt.
As Hannah went about being a General Manager worthy of being spoken about with such high regard, the things she did were a natural extension of her state of being – her thoughts, her feelings and her intention.
She didn’t assist her staff in the restaurant with impatience, she didn’t attend member meetings in frustration and she didn’t listen to member complaints with disregard. She showed up as the bigger person. Bigger than her ego, bigger than any doubters and bigger than the job in front of her.
As the months roll by, Hannah continues to quietly, confidently and consistently create her brand.
Just like Hannah, we are creating our own brand in every interaction every day.
“…Everything that we do, say, and embody at work creates the brand for which we become known…” Forbes
As a leader, what brand have you been creating?
And is it what you want to be known for?