Over the past couple of weeks I’ve given you a step-by-step guide on how to build your personal leadership brand, a statement that articulates:
- who you want to be,
- what you want to be known for,
- what you want to achieve,
- how you want to contribute to others and
- what you can do to leave a better world for future generations.
You may be wondering why you should articulate a leadership brand in the first place. The answer of course is, you don’t have to. But, if you want to ensure that your actions are consistent with how they are perceived by the people that you lead (regardless of hierarchical relations), you need to take steps that are in a direction so that at the end of your life you don’t look back and have regrets.
As I’ve highlighted in the image below your leadership brand should be rooted in your past, based on what drives you today, aimed at the contribution that you want to make and aspiring to the legacy you want to leave behind.
In this last article on building your leadership brand we’ll look at the legacy you want to leave behind. During my leadership sessions, the most difficult steps I take people through is always about the future. I’ve noticed that leaders are so focused on delivering today and maybe 12 months and maybe 3 years down the line that a question for them to articulate how people want to remember them on their 80th birthday is really difficult.
Questions to Answer to Create Your Leadership Brand
Even more difficult is for them to think past their own life-times. But as Peter Willis, previously South Africa Director of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and now a facilitator and thought leader on Business and Sustainability, says “50 years from now business leaders will get imprisoned if they would do the things they currently do to our planet”. To help leaders think about sustainability and the importance of it Peter makes leaders contextualize what they are doing today in a larger time frame by showing that their 80 years on Earth is just an insignificant fraction of the age of our planet. And more importantly, he makes it personal. The question that he wants you to answer is:
What am I doing today that will help create a better life for my favorite ten-year-old for when he / she is 80?
Since people find it difficult to think 30 or 40 years ahead, thinking 80 years ahead is a real brain twister. We’re often so self-absorbed and focused on the ‘here and now’ that we forget to step back and recognize that we’re borrowing this planet and its resources from our (future) grand-children. We forget to reflect and think on how our actions as leaders today impact the world 80 years from now.
So when you consider your leadership brand, think what you can and want to do to leave a better planet behind for your special young one.
And yes, it’s about the small things we can do on an individual basis but I think we can have a multiplier effect within the organisations and teams we’re leading. Afterall, what’s stopping you from being seen as someone who:
- Teaches kids the importance of tolerance, integrity, humility and compassion?
- Builds companies that are an integral and net contributor to the community you’re part of?
- Makes sure you genuinely and sustainably impact people that are important to you?
- Has a vision of helping manufacturing organisations to give give back and offset everything they take from this planet?
- Reduces inequality and creates a platform of equal opportunities for all?
When you look deep inside you, the answer is simple, no one! In this age of the hyper-empowered and connected individuals the only person that stops you from doing this, is you. And if you capture this spirit in your leadership brand, review it on at least an annual basis I promise you that, even if you don’t achieve it in full, you’ll have achieved more than if you didn’t think about it and steered your actions in that direction.
Good luck in building your leadership brand and I look forward to hearing what you develop. As you know by know mine is “Pushing Boundaries – constantly pushing myself and others to challenge our boundaries, to do stuff that you have never done before, learn and share experiences to leave a better world.”