By Michael Holland –

At times in coaching leaders, I work with them on adjusting their brand within the organization. Sometimes this is a rebuild process, with the leader needing to re-brand themselves due to some difficult history.

Other times it is a “build for the future” process, with the leader seeking to buildout their leadership persona and behaviors.

Here are a few important aspects of leadership branding. . .


We want the brand to match the behaviors. It’s easy to paint a quick brand that appears to be engaging and virtuous. But the behaviors over time must align with the branding in order to really engage employees.

Develop a list of those behaviors you believe in as a leader.  Try to use phrases instead of just words.  So instead of “I’m an honest leader” consider something like “I’ll provide timely feedback to my employees in ways they can best hear the feedback.”

Start Small

Working through a vision for how you want to lead in the future is appropriate and encouraged. Pronouncing that vision may not be the best step forward.

Use small steps to reveal the brand which will help to build a solid foundation of behavior as well as offer opportunity to pivot.

An example: So if your brand will include meeting with your employees 1:1 (one on one) on an ongoing basis you may want to start walking the walk before talking the talk.

Tell your employees that you want to meet 1:1 each week for the next 5 weeks as an experiment. Versus telling them you are committed to 1:1s and schedule them out for the next 12 months.

You don’t necessarily have to pronounce your full intentions.

Draw a Picture

As you work to build your brand, draw a picture of all the aspects of your brand. Then fill in the drawing with behavioral characteristics of the brand that help to define the picture.

So if you will value honest, direct feedback, draw out and write out how this looks when you provide that feedback to employees and their varying communication styles.

And, maybe more importantly, draw and write out how you will receive direct, critical feedback from not only your boss but also your employees, and your peers and your CEO.

All leaders have a leadership brand. Leaders who lead well are intentional in developing their brand.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Think about the leaders around/above you. How would you describe some of their leadership brands?
  • How would you describe your current leadership brand?
  • Grab two peer leaders and discuss leadership brands and how you perceive each other’s brands.